Dems struggle to contain fallout over Trump-era immigration rule

These people are craven. idiots who have boxed themselves in.

Another proof: Trust the plan!

Democrats are struggling to find a way out of an entrenched fight over the administration’s decision to lift a Trump-era border policy that has put a spotlight on fierce intraparty divisions.  

Those tensions, which have simmered over the two-week break, are expected to spill over publicly as lawmakers return to Washington, despite a judge on Monday temporarily blocking the administration from ending the policy known as Title 42. 

The fight is stalling more coronavirus aid and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is set to testify before several committees and will likely be grilled about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision to lift the Trump-era rule.  

The growing headache puts President Biden in the middle of competing factions within his own party: He’s facing a revolt from moderates who have rushed to distance themselves from the administration, as well as intense pressure from more liberal Democrats and immigration advocates to stick by the CDC’s decision.  

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, pointed to unanswered questions about what comes after lifting Title 42 — a Trump-era pandemic public health policy that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border and blocks them from seeking asylum — as a source of anxiety for Democrats.  

“I think people … want to know what’s next, and I think that’s the big question,” Durbin told The Hill, asked about divisions within the caucus.  

Durbin added that he had gotten a written briefing over the two-week break on the plan for after Title 42 is lifted but that it doesn’t “talk about the progress that’s being made toward that.” 

The administration announced earlier this month that it would rescind Title 42 effective May 23. The announcement set off a firestorm that has only spread since then as a growing number of moderate Democrats, traditional allies and key chairmen have distanced themselves from the decision.  

The administration has defended the move, and Mayorkas, during a CBS News interview last week, pledged that his department has a plan to respond to an expected increase in the number of migrants at the border.  

“The assertion that we do not have plans is an assertion that is not grounded in fact,” Mayorkas said. “We have been planning for months to address increases in migration; those that we already have experienced and those that we might experience upon an end to Title 42.” 

But that’s done little to assuage concerns from congressional Democrats, marking one of the most significant and high-profile breaks between the two sides of Pennsylvania Avenue during Biden’s tenure.  

Underscoring the pressure that the administration is under, Mayorkas, in addition to his committee testimony, will brief a bipartisan group of lawmakers privately on a call on Tuesday, a source confirmed to The Hill.  

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has been critical of the administration’s decision, told The Hill that he hadn’t heard from the administration and remained opposed to lifting Title 42.  

“I don’t think Title 42 should be done until we have an immigration bill that works or the pandemic, the COVID, is no longer a threat,” Manchin said.  

The politics are complicated for Democrats. 

Politico-Morning Consult poll released earlier this month found that while only 26 percent of Democrats opposed Biden’s Title 42 decision, 52 percent of independents, the voters Democrats could need to win key Senate battles this November, were against the move.  

Gallup poll released this month, but conducted before the CDC announced that it would roll back the border rule, found that 41 percent of Americans worried a “great deal” about “illegal immigration,” while an additional 19 percent worried a “fair amount” about it.  

That breakdown is skewed along party lines.  

Only 41 percent of Democratic respondents, but 56 percent of independents, said they worried about illegal immigration a “great deal” or a “fair amount.”  

Republicans are eager to use the administration’s Title 42 decision against vulnerable Democrats in November as they view immigration as a key part of their midterm message.  

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who is facing a progressive primary challenger, told “Fox News Sunday” that the administration’s decision to lift Title 42 has border communities “very concerned.” 

“They’re not only public officials but other folks, and none of them said, ‘Yes, go ahead and lift Title 42,’” Cuellar said. “And none of them said, ‘Open up the border.’ They are very concerned because they are on the front lines, and they’re the ones I think we need to listen to.” 

The fight over the border policy has also snagged a separate agreement on $10 billion in coronavirus aid, as Republicans demand a vote to tie Title 42 to the coronavirus assistance.  

The proposal, from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), would effectively block the administration from rescinding the Trump-era rule as long as the broader coronavirus public health emergency remains in place.  

Democrats could defeat Lankford’s amendment if they were unified — but they aren’t. Five Democratic senators have backed the legislation. Republicans believe they would need only a simple majority, meaning the support of one Democratic senator, for it to get added to the coronavirus bill.  

Any move by the administration to try to keep Title 42 in place would likely spark fierce pushback from a coalition of Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates who long pushed for Biden to get rid of the Trump-era rule, viewing it as inhumane. Those same Democrats have been frustrated by their colleagues who have criticized rescinding it, arguing that they are mirroring GOP talking points.  

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) met at the White House with Biden on Monday.  

“I made clear to the President and his team that in order to follow through on a promise to create a just and humane immigration system – Title 42 must end on May 23rd and they should be clear that they do not support legislation to extend the end-date,” CHC Deputy Chair Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

The administration is also facing a legal challenge to its decision to lift the Trump-era rule, raising the prospect that it could get caught up in the courts. A federal judge in Louisiana on Monday issued a temporary restraining order to keep Title 42 in place past May 23. 

“I’d like to see a plan from the administration. The courts is separate from what we do here,” said Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), when asked about the court decision.  

The administration is signaling that it’s effectively kicking the question of whether to delay the lifting of the CDC rule, or keep it together, to Congress, which has struggled repeatedly in recent years to reach any consensus on immigration or the border.  

“Congress would have to take action in order for the date not to be May 23,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.