The letter sent Tuesday to DHS — signed by Jordan, Homeland Security Committee ranking member Rep. John Katko (R-NY), and Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and addressed to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — contends the Biden administration “refuses to disclose its criteria” for deciding which illegal migrants to exempt from Title 42 expulsion. It cites the administration’s “seeming propensity to weaken Title 42 expulsions authority” amid surging numbers of illegal migration.
Title 42 is a public health order implemented by the Trump administration’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year that allows Border Patrol to immediately return migrants to Mexico instead of holding them in the U.S. in the interest of protecting public health.
Since Biden took office, the administration has only allowed Border Patrol to partially continue using it as a result of numerous new exceptions it has made to the order.
“Not only could these exceptions incentivize additional illegal entries in the U.S., but once paroled into the country, these foreign nationals can seek employment authorization,” the letter warns.
Read a copy of the full letter below:
The letter also references DHS’s use of undisclosed nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help DHS with sorting through which illegal migrants to expel and which to allow to remain in the country, arguing the congressional committees with jurisdiction over immigration policy are entitled to a list of the NGOs helping the agency. “It appears that DHS is willing to provide more information about immigration policies to these NGOs than to the United States Congress,” the letter states.
In February, the Biden administration lightened the Title 42 protection by prohibiting using it to expel unaccompanied alien children (UACs), or migrants under 18 years old who cross the border without a parent or guardian. Then, in May, DHS’s Office of Public Affairs also noted a “humanitarian exception process” it was using:
As the United States continues to enforce the CDC Order under its Title 42 public health authority, we are working to streamline a system for identifying and lawfully processing particularly vulnerable individuals who warrant humanitarian exceptions under the order. This humanitarian exception process involves close coordination with international and non-governmental organizations in Mexico and COVID-19 testing before those identified through this process are allowed to enter the country.
The number of migrants receiving the Title 42 exemptions have vastly increased under the nebulous “particularly vulnerable individuals” provision and the exemptions reportedly include illegal migrants who are pregnant, gay, transgender, have medical issues, and more.
The letter to Mayorkas requests “the specific criteria that the Biden Administration is using to identify and process ‘particularly vulnerable individuals who warrant humanitarian exceptions’ to the Title 42 public health authority order, and the names of the NGOs with which” it is working by May 28.
The request comes as DHS officials have been debating internally over Title 42’s implementation, as Breitbart News’s John Binder reported, and top officials at the agency are aiming to use the order less and less, eventually phasing out its use altogether amid pressure from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and pro-immigration lawyers.
DHS did not respond to a request for comment on if it intends to answer the congressmen’s letter.
The CDC currently rates Mexico as “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” and advises “travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico.”