Lankford, Sinema, Colleagues Introduce Bill Delaying End of Title 42 & Ensuring Comprehensive Plan in Place to Secure the Border

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Border Management Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chair of the Border Management Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), John Thune (R-SD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Public Health and Border Security Act to require all COVID-19 related national states of emergency to be lifted before Title 42 is officially terminated.

“The Biden Administration is declaring the pandemic over on our southern border but still active on our healthcare workers, military, and travelers. Department of Homeland Security intel projections show that potentially a million people will illegally cross the moment Title 42 is lifted. But instead of a workable replacement plan, the only plan the Biden Administration seems to have is moving people faster into the interior of the country,” said Lankford. “They cannot have it both ways. If they think it’s safe enough to lift Title 42 at the border, then it must be safe enough to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency on the whole country. But when we drop Title 42 at the border, DHS must also implement a workable solution to expel migrants.”

“Arizona communities bear the brunt of the federal government’s failure at our border, so we’re stepping in and protecting border communities by ensuring the Administration works hand-in-hand with local leaders, law enforcement, and nonprofits to put a comprehensive, workable plan in place before lifting Title 42. I’ll continue pushing for transparency and accountability from the Administration to help secure the border, keep Arizona communities safe, and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” said Sinema.

The Biden Administration announced its plans to terminate the Title 42 order on May 23, a move Lankford and Sinema strongly oppose due to inadequate time for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide a plan that will prevent further chaos at the border. Lankford and Sinema’s bill prevents the Administration from ending the Title 42 emergency authority until at least 60 days after ending the COVID-19 national emergency declaration. After the end of the national emergency, the Department of Homeland Security would have thirty days to submit to Congress a plan to address the impacts of the post-Title 42 migrant influx. That plan must be made in coordination with local governments, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations on the front-lines of the migrant crisis.

A bill to end the federal emergency declaration passed the Senate on March 3, 2022, with Lankford’s support, and at that time Lankford advised against revoking Title 42 until DHS puts a workable plan in place to end the chaos at the southern border.

Lankford started talking about the impact of Title 42 on the Senate floor in March of 2021. Lankford sent a letter to Senators and warned the media recently to make sure they’re aware of the chaos that is about to begin if the Biden Administration follows through with plans to lift Title 42 authority and said he will bring a resolution of disapproval forward to overturn the Biden Administration’s attempt to lift the Title 42 order, without a workable solution.

Last week, Sinema spoke with DHS Secretary Mayorkas to discuss the Administration’s Title 42 contingency plans. She underscored how Arizona communities and migrants could be harmed if a Title 42 end is not accompanied by proper planning, coordination, and resources. Sinema also raised concerns she heard from her recent virtual border roundtable with federal and non-governmental partners in Arizona, and other conversations she has had with Arizona DHS officials. Sinema called for DHS to launch an intergovernmental coordination effort to ensure communication between federal, state, local, and non-governmental partners to strengthen cooperation. Secretary Mayorkas agreed to move forward with that strategy across the country. Last June, Sinema asked Secretary Mayorkas to proactively create a comprehensive plan in advance of an end to Title 42 and requested to be briefed on this plan.