Alabama leaders share thoughts on new border bill, Title 42 expiration

Many Republicans support the new border bill, while Alabama's lone congressional Democrat is criticizing it.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 9:46 PM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 10:22 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama politicians are sharing their thoughts on the passage of a U.S. House bill to continue construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and impose new restrictions on asylum seekers. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Thursday’s vote happened hours before Title 42′s scheduled expiration. Title 42 is a public health emergency rule that began in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It allowed border authorities to deny migrant entry to prevent the spread of the disease.

Many Republicans are standing firmly beside it, while Alabama’s lone congressional Democrat is criticizing it.

All of Alabama’s Republican House members voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Barry Moore said he wants to put the numbers into perspective.

“The numbers the American people need to understand is 5 million encounters on the U.S. southern border. That’s my state’s entire population,” said Moore.

Rep. Gary Palmer said he agrees that the number of migrants coming into the country is “a problem.”

“What concerns me more than anything else is the amount of illegal drugs that have come into the country, particularly fentanyl, and the devastating impact it’s having,” Palmer said.

U.S. Sen. Katie Britt has visited the border multiple times and is calling on Biden to do more, saying, “We have a humanitarian and a national security crisis at our border every single day. As a mom, it was gut-wrenching to watch women, pregnant, attempt to cross the border with multiple tiny children behind them.”

Democrats are calling this bill “cruel” and “anti-immigrant.” It would roll back some rights of international asylum seekers and would bar border agents from performing much of the basic work of processing migrants.

Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama’s sole congressional delegate, voted no on this border bill. She sent the following statement:

“We must take action to strengthen border security, but with this bill, Republicans are more focused on punishing immigrants and asylum seekers than finding practical, common sense solutions to our immigration challenges.”

State leaders in Alabama are also speaking up. Gov. Kay Ivey said she is concerned about the Biden administration’s handling of the border. She sent this statement ahead of Title 42′s expiration Thursday night:

“I, along with my fellow Alabamians, are gravely concerned as the Biden Administration ends Title 42 which has successfully halted millions of illegal crossings. What we see now is chaos, and preventable chaos at that.

“Here at home, we have been working hard to ensure the safety and protection of our citizens. Law enforcement in Alabama continues to combat criminal activity stemming from illegal immigration, and that will absolutely remain our mission going forward.

“Folks, America deserves better than this crisis, and frankly, so do our immigrants.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall said the expiration of Title 42 will create a wave of asylum seekers that he believes the U.S. isn’t prepared for.

“Our system’s going to be overwhelmed. The Biden administration is going to allow people to enter this country without having to coordinate, and then somehow another believe that they’ll just show up at a certain location, despite not having any knowledge of when they’re supposed to appear,” he said,

The Biden administration has sent 1,500 additional troops to the border and the Homeland Security secretary recently said the administration has done all it can to prepare for the end of Title 42.

The bill is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and Biden said he would veto this bill if it did.

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