Democratic Senator Joe Manchin expressed his disdain for the Biden administration's plan to scrap the Trump-era border restrictions put in place as an emergency measure during the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday
Manchin told reporters the day before that he thinks the administration should abandon its plans to lift the policy. When asked why he's opposed lifting the restrictions, he said, "Oh my goodness. Just watch the news y'all put out every day — what's coming across."
In recent weeks, several right-wing cable outlets, like Fox News, have ramped up their coverage at the U.S. - Mexico border.
On Friday, Manchin furthered his criticism in response to the announcement.
"Today's announcement by the [Centers for Disease Control] and the Biden administration is a frightening decision," he said in a statement.
Title 42 is a measure put in place by the Trump administration in March 2020 which allows U.S. immigration authorities to quickly expel migrants and asylum-seekers.
The CDC has been reassessing Title 42 every 60 days since August 2021 in order to determine whether the measure is still necessary. The most recent review was due Wednesday, but CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said the agency was still working on the review and would "release more information later this week," according to CBS News.
In an open letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Manchin expressed his concerns about lifting the policy, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and particularly the new strain of the virus.
"With encounters along our southern border surging and the highly-transmissible Omicron BA.2 subvariant emerging as the dominate strain in the United States, now is not the time to throw caution to the wind," Manchin wrote. "I urge you to again renew this commonsense policy that has been in effect—under both Republican and Democratic Administrations—since March 2020."
Manchin is not the only Senate Democrat to speak out against the decision.
"This is the wrong decision. It's unacceptable to end Title 42 without a plan and coordination in place to ensure a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border," Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wrote in a joint statement with Arizona's other Democratic senator, Mark Kelly.
Previously, the Biden administration had plans to overturn many immigration policies put in place by the Trump administration, though some of these were prevented by federal court rulings. A federal court ordered the Biden administration to restart the "Return to Mexico" policy until it increases its capacity to hold migrants inside the U.S.
However, Biden has been fighting to keep Title 42 in place; in fact, 70% of migrant expulsions under Title 42 have taken place under the Biden administration. But two federal lawsuits in March put some limitations on the measure: the administration cannot expel immigrants to a country where they could be persecuted due to their "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion'" or to a country where they will "likely be tortured."
The Republican party and various media outlets, particularly Fox News, are pushing the idea that there is a high volume of border crossings as a result of Biden's loose restrictions. But this is untrue; there are more individuals being apprehended for unauthorized crossings each month than there were two years ago, prior to the pandemic.