Former ICE chief: Biden’s Title 42 pledge gives eager border crossers a ‘head start’

Former acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chief Ron Vitiello said Monday on Your World that President Joe Biden was giving smugglers and illegal immigrants a “head start” by announcing in advance that he will rescind Title 42, the Trump-era order that allowed ICE to quickly send illegal immigrants back to Mexico due to health concerns. 

Vitiello was ICE chief under Trump, who put Title 42 in place during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s ridiculous,” Vitiello said “They gave everybody a six-week head start on the rescission of Title 42, which is the only tool, the smallest tool that they have in the tool shed as it relates to policy that allows the border patrol to expel people back to Mexico if they’re claiming asylum.”

He is among a number of both Democrats and Republicans who have expressed concerns that repealing Title 42 will lead to an even larger surge at the border, one that the administration is unprepared to handle.

Chaos at the border

“I was in the border patrol for 33 years,” Vitiello said. “I have never seen this kind of chaos at the border in my entire career. It’s never been as busy at the border as it is right now. Thousands of agents that, instead of patrolling the border, are doing the care and comfort mission.”

Vitiello is not only concerned about the numbers of illegal immigrants that may come across the border under Biden’s policies, which some say could be as high as six million a year, but he also sees the unbridled immigration as a threat to national security.

“You have thousands of people coming in every 24 hours,” he said. “The system is overwhelmed, and this administration has failed to do their duty to protect us. The more chaos that we have at the border, the more threat that we are under.”

In addition, drug smugglers and human traffickers are now poised to act quickly when the restriction is lifted on May 23.

He “gave all of the smugglers a six-week head start saying they’re not going to do it anymore,” Vitiello said. “Any chance that they get to make a statement as it relates to policy on the southwest border or immigration enforcement, they step back. And this is no different.”

Democrat pushback

The Hill reported Monday that Biden has begun to receive significant Democrat pushback over the plan. Chair of both the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), said he thinks there should be at least a delay of the May 23 rescinding of Title 42 until the administration can submit a plan that will offset the predicted surge.

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), all up for re-election in November, have all come out against rolling back Title 42.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll also suggests that a majority of Americans, 54%, disagree with Biden’s border policies. Only 35% of those surveyed supported the decision.

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