Cities along the U.S.-Mexico border are bracing for the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era immigration restriction set to expire this week, but the White House insists this doesn’t mean the border will be open.
The expiration of Title 42 loomed large over Monday’s White House press conference, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly appearing to dodge questions about the long-term implications.
“I want to be very clear here. The fact is that the removal of Title 42 does not mean the border is open,” Jean-Pierre said. “Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply doing the work of these smugglers who, again, are spreading misinformation which is very dangerous.”
Title 42, a public health rule in place since March 2020, has been used to deter migrants more than 2.5 million times and will expire Wednesday. Border cities have been scrambling to secure state and federal aid as daily new arrivals could double from 2,400 and temperatures are set to drop below freezing. El Paso, Texas, declared a state of emergency over the border late last week. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared an invasion, and several of the state’s counties near the border had already declared states of emergency, all due to the historic numbers of illegal crossings.
Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration will go back to Title 8, which mandates that any illegal immigrant present in the United States “without being admitted or paroled, or who arrives in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the Attorney General, is inadmissible.”
“Those who do not have a legal basis to remain will be quickly removed,” Jean-Pierre said. “And so we will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws in a fair, orderly and humane manner.”
Jean-Pierre reiterated her critiques of Republican lawmakers’ supposed failure to work with Democrats on comprehensive immigration reform. A reporter noted that a Democratic-majority Congress “resulted in virtually no change in immigration policy” and asked how things would be any easier with Republicans in charge.
“We asked for the $3.5 billion. We’re going to continue to ask Congress … especially Congressional Republicans … to help us with what’s going on at the border if they are indeed serious about doing that,” Jean-Pierre said.
Asked again whether President Biden intended to visit the border – something he has yet to do as president – Karine Jean-Pierre said, “the president’s focus right now is to make sure that we have the resources to manage what’s happening right now.”
Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for additional comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.