The Republicans’ national campaign weapons, as part of their strategy to win back the House and Senate in November’s midterm elections, have signaled a new impetus to highlight politics in its outreach to voters, particularly in swing states and districts near the US-Mexico border. The policy change has also shot to the front in individual campaigns, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s attempt to fend off a challenge from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
The effort speaks to a broad belief among Republicans that the Title 42 decision can focus voters’ attention on one of Democrats’ longstanding political vulnerabilities, immigration, and help them secure state legislatures, win back control of Congress and stifle the president’s agenda for the next two years.
Republican lawmakers and strategists are openly discussing linking the policy change to a range of other concerns voters associate with the border, from the smuggling of fentanyl and other drugs to violent crime and the spread of communicable diseases other than Covid.
“This is a huge political loser for the Democrats,” said Zack Roday, a Virginia-based Republican strategist who works on campaigns across the country. “In the border states we have the opportunity to talk about this in a localized way because it is very relevant to those communities. And in places like Colorado, where we have a lot of House and Senate races, there’s been a lot of debate about fentanyl sentencing, so we can relate to that. Really, no matter where you are, this touches on security issues that independent voters list as one of their top concerns.”
The issue has also shaken the Capitol.
Senate Republicans blocked Tuesday $10 billion in Covid aid to move forward until they are guaranteed a vote on an amendment that would reinstate Title 42, a move Democratic leaders want to avoid because it would highlight divisions in their group on the issue. Amid the stalemate, the camera pointed consideration of critical funding until after Congress’s two-week recess.
“I’m sure [Democrats] I don’t want to vote for it because it can make a difference in whether they are senators or not in the future,” said Sen. mike braun (R-Ind.), one of the lawmakers demanding the amendment vote in exchange for approving Covid aid.
Their. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who supports the extra Covid money, agreed with Braun’s assessment, calling Title 42 “kryptonite” for Democrats. And late last week, several Democrats from swing states, many of them running for re-election this November, joined the Republicans. on an invoice that would keep the restriction in place until at least 60 days after the federal government ends the national emergency declaration for Covid-19.
In the House, dozens of Republicans led by the conservative Freedom Caucus took the floor Wednesday to demand a vote to reinstate Title 42, arguing that doing so would “protect all Americans from Biden’s border crisis.” Other Republicans are require control hearings.
Many Democrats argue that these are bad faith attacks that are delaying key Covid relief while hundreds of Americans are still dying every day from the virus.
“They attack President Biden at the border and in immigration saying he is doing nothing, then they turn around with the repeal of Title 42 and say he needs to restore what he was doing because it was working,” the representative said. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas). “You can’t have it both ways.”
But some Democratic strategists worry that the White House, by pledging to end the policy in May, is giving Republicans an easy talking point ahead of a historically tough election for the president’s party.
“The lack of policy details is causing major political challenges for our party,” said John LaBombard, political strategist for ROKK Solutions and a recent senior staff member for Senator John LaBombard. Kyrsten Cinema (D-Arizona). “The administration has a real opportunity to make sure that when Title 42 is lifted there is a plan that goes beyond the gibberish. … The fact that we are seeing a growing chorus of Democrats and Republicans from the border states speaking ever louder tells me that such a plan does not currently exist.”
Democratic lawmakers, public health experts and immigration advocates have long argued that the policy is illegal and does nothing to stop the spread of Covid-19. It is, they say, an anti-immigration measure that strips migrants of their right under international law to seek asylum in the US. More than 1.7 million migrants have been expelled under the order since it was enacted in 2020. , the vast majority under President Joe Biden.
The CDC announced on April 1 that it would stop deporting immigrants on May 23, saying allowing them into the US immigration system no longer poses a threat to Americans’ health as COVID-19 cases decline. 19 and hospitalizations.
The announcement coincided with the Biden administration’s request to Congress for billions more to bolster Covid-19 testing, vaccine supplies and therapy, as well as its warnings that Omicron’s highly communicable, it is spreading rapidly within the US, sending a mixed message to Republicans. They were quick to point out.
“It is insane that the administration is claiming to be concerned about COVID at the same time that it has decided to open the doors to illegal immigrants who are COVID positive,” said Sen. ted cross (R-Texas) told POLITICO. “Has no sense.”
Their. Bob Menendez, which has been calling for an end to Title 42, says such attacks are false. “The CDC has relaxed multiple pandemic orders in recent months,” he said in a statement to POLITICO. “Republicans, who have been outspoken opponents of public health measures like mask mandates, are clearly in favor of Title 42 because they see it as an immigration restriction.”
The Republican Party is also pressing the issue in federal court.
On April 3, the Republican attorneys general of Arizona, Missouri, and Louisiana sued the Biden administration for terminating the order, alleging that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to carry out the required comment and notification process. They argued that lifting the order threatens states with the costs of potentially increased migration, calling it “simply at war.” with the other government Covid-19 protocols.
Both Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich are running for Senate in November.
“Every state is now a border state,” Schmitt said in a statement to POLITICO. “With the flood of illegal drugs like fentanyl and the rise of human trafficking and smuggling across the border, every state is affected by the porous and lax border policies of the Biden Administration.”
On Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he also plans to challenge the CDC’s order under the APA.
Christopher Hajec, litigation director at the Immigration Reform Law Institute in Washington, DC, and outside counsel for the state of Texas on the case, told POLITICO that the administration’s decision to end Title 42 is “arbitrary and capricious” and goes against their other Covid Mitigation Mandates.
“The number of people that will come in will be staggering,” Hajec said. “The best way to get cases back is to let a large number of people in.”
Arguing that a federal pandemic mitigation measure should remain in place is a diversion for the four attorneys general, who have sued the Biden administration over vaccine and mask mandates.
Brnovich declined to comment. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
If the courts rule in favor of the states in either case, it could spark a messy legal battle.
Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that it is illegal for the administration to use Title 42 to expel migrant families to places where they could face persecution and torture. If the CDC is ordered to pursue Title 42 by another court, the ACLU, which represented the families in the DC case, has said it will fight that decision.
Regardless of the outcome, GOP strategists say the GOP campaign reflects what voters want and will ramp up in coming weeks. a recent Morning Consult-POLITICO Survey shows that 56 percent of all voters disagreed with Biden’s decision to cancel the policy, making it his least popular political decision to date, according to Morning Consult tracking.
“When I heard the administration was going to stop Title 42, my first thought was, ‘When you’re in a hole, stop digging,’” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “The administration is incredibly vulnerable on the whole immigration issue. Even a year ago, when Joe Biden had majority approval of the job, his approval on immigration hovered around 40 percent. This last step adds fuel to the fire.”