FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Many immigration advocates and Democrats have been pressuring President Joe Biden to lift Title 42, a public health order that blocks migrants at the border from seeking asylum.
But some Democrats who face tight races are expressing concern that the White House doesn't have enough of a plan to tackle the likely influx of migrants at the border once Title 42 lifts.
Action News spoke to ABC News contributor Maria Elena Salinas about the controversial policy and what could happen if Title 42 expires on May 23.
Graciela Moreno: Maria Elena, thank you for being with us today. We are talking about Title 42. Why is it such a controversial topic?
Maria Elena Salinas: It's been controversial because of the misinformation that thousands and thousands of people are going to storm the border, and that's just not the case. As we know, the situation at the border, there are thousands of people waiting there, some for up to two years, to request asylum in the United States. Many of them have been in shelters in Mexico or in makeshift camps, living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Many of them are there because they're under Title 42. They aren't allowed to request asylum. If they approach the border, they are turned back. However, requesting asylum is their legal right, and the U.S. has a legal obligation to listen to their cases. It was the CDC who decided to lift Title 42 on May 23, saying there was no longer needed to prevent the spread of COVID. However, there is a court order right now and others pending stemming from lawsuits from Republican states. The first is a temporary restraining order so we're waiting to see if the court who placed that restraining order decides to issue a full injunction. At that point, Title 42 would not be able to be lifted, but it has been in place since the middle of 2020.
Graciela: The Biden Administration has said they plan to roll back Title 42. Do we really think this is going to happen because we know this will have an impact on midterm elections? What are your thoughts on that?
Maria Elena: It depends if you are looking at it from a political lens, from a humanitarian lens we have to remember there are thousands of people who have been waiting there and they are in legal limbo because of these lawsuits that have been pending. We don't know when he is going to do that. The issue has already had some impact on the midterm election because we see many Republican candidates have made immigration the focus of their campaigns. Immigration was a signature issue for President Trump, and it worked for him, and so some are following his playbook, but as you mentioned Democrats, there are some vulnerable Democrats who have expressed concern over the potential optics of lifting Title 42 would create if it's not handled carefully. What they fear is there will be chaos at the border if in fact the administration does not have the right measures to adequately process those thousands of people. We also have to look at the other side. There were also a lot of voters that feel they've waited too long to lift Title 42. They feel that lifting it in May is too little too late. There are a lot of advocates, a lot of human rights advocates who are upset not only at Republicans but also Democrats who are not supporting the lifting of Title 42."
Unless any action is taken before then, the CDC decided Title 42 should expire on May 23.