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Customs & Border Patrol Commissioner Chris Magnus testified before Congress Wednesday on the agency’s budget amid debate over Title 42.
Watch the event in the player above.
Title 42 authority is named for a public health law and used to expel migrants on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Title 42 is due to expire May 23.
WATCH: Biden administration defends border policies as the battle over Title 42 heats up
When asked about what agents on the ground were saying about the expiration of Title 42, the commissioner deflected, saying “our concern is that we have the best tools available to address the challenges at the border.”
Magnus said that the usefulness of Title 42 was limited, because repatriating people back to their original countries does not stop them from returning to the border and trying to enter the U.S. again.
“What I’m hearing is that the more useful resource is Title 8, because what it provides for are multiple, basically, consequence pathways, including enforcement and there are multiple avenues even for enforcement to deal with people who have committed more serious criminal offenses, who are repeat border crossers,” Magnus said.
He added that “a wide range of agents” have told him they want “a wide range of tools that provide for consequences.”
Lifting Title 42 has proven controversial as midterm elections near, even for President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, amid concerns that the U.S. is unprepared for an anticipated increase in migrants seeking asylum. Authorities stopped migrants more than 221,000 times in March, the highest mark in 22 years.
The White House and Homeland Security Department have publicly stood behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end the measure because it could no longer be justified on grounds of protecting public health.
The U.S. has expelled migrants more than 1.8 million times under Title 42 authority since March 2020, effectively overriding rights to seek asylum under U.S. law and international treaty. In doing so, migrants are not subject to immigration law, which include rights to seek protection from persecution at home.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays strongly criticized the CDC’s decision, suggesting he would try to keep Title 42 in effect after May 23. A hearing is scheduled May 13 for oral arguments.
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