President Joe Biden threw House Democrats under the bus again this week when he announced that he would not veto a Republican bill immediately ending the COVID state of emergency. Biden had said he was against the legislation, just like he was against Republican legislation undoing the Council of the District of Columbia’s weak crime bill, before he finally said he would sign it.
On the crime bill, the resolution is in the works. The D.C. Council has since said it will pass a new crime bill that doesn't lower penalties for violent crimes such as carjacking. But it is unclear if the White House is prepared for the ramifications if the COVID emergency is abruptly ended.
Biden is currently using Title 42, a health provision, as his main enforcement mechanism for keeping a semblance of order at the southern border. In December, when there was a record high of 252,000 migrants arrested after illegally crossing the southern border, Biden used Title 42 to return just 52,000 of them to Mexico. Over the next two months, however, Biden stepped up his use of Title 42, using it to return 66,000 migrants in January and 72,000 in February. Thanks to his increased use of Title 42, overall arrests fell to 156,000 in January and 155,000 in February.
Biden had previously announced he would end the use of Title 42 on May 11, but it is unclear what the Biden administration will use in its place to deny migrants entry into the United States. There are tons of migrants in northern Mexico just waiting for the signal they can cross. There are so many of them that they are straining the resources of Mexican cities such as Ciudad Juarez.
The Biden administration has been telling migrants to use a new app to make appointments to cross into the U.S. But the app works a lot slower than new migrants are arriving. At one shelter with 800 migrants, only two have secured appointments. “We do not have the capabilities to deal with this amount of migrants,” Martha Barcena, who was the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. from 2018-2021, told the New York Times.
Earlier this week, 39 migrants died in a detention center fire after being arrested by Mexican immigration officials. The fire “should make Mexico and the U.S. aware that the measures that have been agreed on are not working and they are causing terrible tragedies,” Barcena added. With Biden set to sign the end of COVID legislation, those “measures that have been agreed on” are about to change. It will be interesting to see what measures Biden has in mind to take their place.