More Democrats Criticize Biden For Plan To End Trump-Era Border Restrictions


Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) on Monday became the latest Democrat to question President Joe Biden’s plan to phase out Title 42, a Trump-era public health policy that lets border agents rapidly expel unauthorized migrants—as progressives applaud the policy’s reversal while moderates and Republicans warn of a potential surge in border crossings.

Key Facts

Peters, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the fundraising-focused Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Politico that Biden’s decision earlier this month to end the border policy by May 23 “should be revisited and perhaps delayed” until there’s a “well-thought-out plan” to end the rule.

The comments came one day after Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)—a close Biden ally—told CBS’ Face the Nation he hopes the decision to rescind Title 42 “will be reconsidered appropriately,” citing a rise in Covid-19 cases in many states (the Biden and Trump administrations both cast the policy as a Covid-focused public health measure).

In recent weeks, some other Democrats have broken with the Biden Administration over the phaseout of Title 42, either criticizing it outright or pushing Biden to release a plan for coping with the possible rise in border crossings that could accompany Title 42’s end.

Just over a week ago, five Senate Democrats—including well-known moderates like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.)—partnered with six Republicans to introduce a bill that would delay the end of Title 42 for at least 60 days and require the Biden Administration to send Congress a plan for dealing with any spikes in migration.

Some Democrats who have criticized Biden’s decision are facing competitive reelection battles later this year, including Sens. Rafael Warnock (Ga.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Mark Kelly (Ariz.)—the latter of whom sponsored the 60-day delay bill.

Key Background

Title 42 restrictions were introduced in March 2020, allowing immigration officials to send migrants who were recently caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to the other side rapidly—sometimes within hours of their arrest. Since then, more than 1.7 million migrants have been expelled from the United States under the policy. Biden exempted unaccompanied minors from Title 42 but continued using it to expel most single adults arrested at the border. The policy is controversial, with critics arguing it is unnecessary on public health grounds and noting it usually prevents migrants fleeing persecution in their home countries from exercising their legal right to seek asylum. Still, members of both parties have cautioned more migrants could try to cross the border once Title 42 is lifted, and the Biden Administration says it is preparing for a possible uptick in border crossings and asylum applications. The plan to end Title 42 also comes as border arrests remain fairly high after spiking in the early months of Biden’s term, a trend Biden has blamed on poverty and violence in Latin America but Republicans have blamed on Biden’s rollback of harsh Trump-era immigration rules.


Top Republicans have fervently criticized Biden for mulling an end to Title 42, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warning last month it would lead to an “utter meltdown” at the southern border.

Surprising Fact

Earlier this month, a bipartisan deal to pass a $10 billion Covid-19 funding package collapsed in the Senate, after McConnell and other Republicans demanded a vote on an amendment that would leave Title 42 in place.


Despite the criticism from some moderates, many Democrats have backed Biden’s plan to rescind Title 42. A group of lawmakers—including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and dozens of House and Senate Democrats—had lobbied Biden to lift Title 42 for months, often criticizing the president for leaving in place a Trump-era policy they view as inhumane.