May 12, 2023 and No Surge at the Border

That took away a few days of headlines and news rhetoric. I guess the Immigration Sky did not fall on us, yes? Of course, this is about the United States lifting the Covid emergency order bringing an end to the Title 42 emergency health authority prohibiting the immigration of the undesirable people Republicans believe should be denied entry. No chaos at the Mexican border. Immigrants are still at the border hoping to get into the US.

The next “Sky is Falling” event? Next “Sky is Falling event? The Debt ceiling.

“May 12, 2023,” Letters from an American, Prof. Heather Cox Richardson

For all the predictions about what would happen when the Title 42 emergency health authority that prohibited most immigration ended just before midnight yesterday, the reality turned out to be pretty…unremarkable. According to Rachel Treisman, Stephania Corpi, and Emily Olson of NPR, the southern border was not chaotic after midnight last night. Instead, there was “a relative sense of calm, if also uncertainty.” The number of crossings remained steady. 

Juan Montes, Alicia A. Caldwell, and Michelle Hackman of the Wall Street Journal suggested that, in fact, crossings dropped when the emergency rule ended and the normal regulations, known as Title 8, resumed. Migrants had rushed to get to the U.S. before the rules changed, the journalists said. They also noted that the relative calm may not last, as the Biden administration is getting criticism in the U.S. from both those who want easier immigration policies and those who want harsher ones. 

The Biden administration has generally barred migrants crossing illegally from requesting asylum, and those deported to their country of origin will face a five-year ban on re-entry. Trying to enter the country again could bring criminal charges. The administration is trying to push asylum requests to an online application, although those trying to use it insist it is hard to use (the administration counters that it is understaffed and so appointments are hard to get). The administration maintains it wants to open up legal pathways to immigration while cracking down on unauthorized crossings.

The American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant rights organizations have sued the administration over the new restrictions, saying the restrictions on asylum are illegal; the ACLU successfully sued the Trump administration with a similar argument.   

From the far right, today former Trump advisor Stephen Miller took to Twitter to announce that his organization had just filed a lawsuit “to shut down Biden’s plan to flood America with illegal aliens by the millions.” He called it a “dire, dire hour for the United States of America.” Miller is an adherent of the “great replacement theory,” a white nationalist belief that nonwhite immigration threatens the traditional culture of the nation. 

In Congress, House Republicans have indicated they want to add the immigration bill they passed yesterday to harden the border, including funding to build Trump’s border wall, to their demands for passage of a measure to raise the debt ceiling. Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) today said,

“Every day that the President continues to dilly dally, in my mind, the price goes up, not down.… You want a debt ceiling increase? You want to go fund the operations of government? Then fix the damn border, Mr. President.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported today that if the debt ceiling is not raised, there is “a significant risk that at some point in the first two weeks of June, the government will no longer be able to pay all of its obligations.”