Sinema: Biden COVID-19 emergency order extension proves need to delay lifting Title 42 – Fox News

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said Thursday the Biden administration’s extension of the nation’s COVID-19 public health emergency proves the need to delay lifting Title 42. 

In a statement, the Arizona Democrat also cited the move to continue the nation’s air and public transit mask mandate for her stance, calling on the White House to delay the order until prepared with a “firm, workable plan to protect Arizona communities and migrants.” 

“The administration’s extension of public health emergency authorities proves the need to delay lifting Title 42 to protect the health and safety of Arizona communities and migrants. I’ll keep 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,” Sinema said.

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President Biden announced at the beginning of the month he would be terminating Title 42, which has been used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to quickly expel migrants at the southern border since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“After considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC director has determined that an order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.

Enforcement of Title 42 is expected to end May 23, news that drew strong reactions from both sides of the aisle.

On Wednesday, more than 50 House Republicans penned a letter pressing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the possibility it may use Veterans Affairs (VA) medical personnel to stem an expected migrant border surge. 

Fox News reported shortly before Biden’s announcement that CBP was considering the idea to have VA personnel assist in taking care of the migrants.

Earlier this month, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., called the move to lift Title 42 a “frightening decision.” 

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“My trip to the southern border reinforced my concerns about the administration preemptively ending Title 42,” Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said. “Border agents were very clear with me that the end of Title 42 will lead to a steep increase of attempted crossings that they will not be able to effectively handle because they don’t have enough resources.”

Kyrsten Sinema speaks to supporters after winning her U.S. Senate race at the Omni Montelucia resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., Nov. 12, 2018. 

Kyrsten Sinema speaks to supporters after winning her U.S. Senate race at the Omni Montelucia resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., Nov. 12, 2018.  (REUTERS/Caitlin O’Hara)

“Right now, we have a crisis on our southern border,” Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., told reporters Wednesday. 

“Title 42 was put in place because of a public health emergency. It shouldn’t be around forever, but right now this administration does not have a plan. I warned them about this months ago.”

Last week, Sinema, Kelly, Hassan and a bipartisan group of senators – including Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford – introduced a bill to ensure the administration has a “comprehensive, workable plan in place before lifting Title 42.” 

There is a similar measure in the House that is backed by some Democrats facing tough reelection bids this year.

“The bill specifically 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,” Sinema’s release notes. 

Senate Security and Governmental Affairs Committee member Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., questions witnesses during a hearing on the 2020 census on Capitol Hill in Washington July 16, 2019. 

Senate Security and Governmental Affairs Committee member Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., questions witnesses during a hearing on the 2020 census on Capitol Hill in Washington July 16, 2019.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Sinema noted that she met with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to discuss the administration’s contingency plans and that the secretary “agreed to move forward” with an intergovernmental strategy to ensure communication between federal, state, local and non-governmental partners.

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Senators say that they have not seen evidence that the department has developed and implemented a sufficient plan. 

In a letter to the president, Sinema wrote Title 42 should not be used indefinitely but said ending it could harm migrants and Arizona communities.

Twenty-one states are now suing the administration over the matter. 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Tyler Olson, Hillary Vaughn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.