U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, today pressed U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra on what the Biden Administration is doing to plan for an influx of migrants arriving at the Southern border in the coming months due to both seasonal trends and the anticipated end to Title 42, particularly as it relates to HHS’s role in making sure migrants and unaccompanied children in its care are treated with dignity and fairness.
“Title 42 is being used to evade our asylum laws. We have a law on the book. It is our international, not only our domestic obligation. It was abhorrent under President Trump and it is abhorrent under President Biden,” said Sen. Menendez when questioning Secretary Becerra during the Finance Committee hearing. “Some of my colleagues who somehow think that it should be extended are making a huge mistake. Because, all Title 42 does is it has migrants making multiple efforts to cross versus knowing that there is finality in an adjudicated asylum claim.
“Last spring, very concerning reports emerged regarding the conditions for unaccompanied children housed in HHS emergency intake sites. And at that time, the Department officials expressed their intent to depopulate and close these short-term facilities as soon as possible,” the senator added. “However, as of April 1st, there were still two emergency intake sites open housing approximately 2,100 children. Is the Department still committed to closing these emergency intake sites and placing unaccompanied children with long-term shelters in your licensed care provider network?”
Menendez has long advocated for an end to inhumane Trump-era immigration policies such as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico, both designed by Stephen Miller to evade the nation’s domestic and international legal obligations to asylum seekers and create chaos at border.
Just last week, in response to the Biden Administration’s announcement that it will finally revoke Title 42, the senator emphasized that the Administration should not delay putting an end to this policy until late May. Instead, he argued that the Administration should start immediately processing asylum claims for families of all nationalities and should work in phases in the coming weeks to address operational challenges and restore humane immigration enforcement and humanitarian laws at the Southern border.
Menendez also called on the Administration to double down on its efforts to resolve the crises that are driving unprecedented levels of migration throughout the Western Hemisphere, all while expanding legal access to migration from Latin America and the Caribbean, including through bolstered visa processing, refugee resettlement, humanitarian parole, and labor migration opportunities – especially for Black and Brown migrants from the region who have been disproportionately impacted by draconian migration deterrence measures such as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico.