By Frank Fang of The Epoch Times
Javier Villalobos, the mayor of the border city of McAllen, Texas, is imploring President Joe Biden not to end the Title 42 public health provision, telling the president to “prioritize the health and safety” of his community.
“Although our community is giving, well-prepared, and proactive, no amount of preparation will allow for a local government such as the City of McAllen to respond to the dramatic rise in the undocumented migration that is anticipated as a direct result of the United States federal government announcing the end of Title 42 effective May 23, 2022,” Villalobos wrote in a letter to the president, dated April 13.
The Trump-era public health provision was invoked in March 2020 as an order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, allowing illegal immigrants to be quickly turned away at the southern U.S. border rather than processed at immigration detention facilities under Title 8 immigration law.
The Biden administration kept the measure in place after taking office. However, on April 1, the CDC announced that the provision would end on May 23, saying “public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19” have rendered the measure unnecessary.
Villalobos cited data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in his letter to highlight how COVID-19 infection has remained a serious concern for his city—over the past 12 weeks, 13.6 percent of the immigrants released by CBP officials into McAllen have tested positive.
The mayor also stated that Hidalgo County, where McAllen is located, has been “disproportionately burdened” by COVID-19. Citing the Texas Department of State Health Services, he said the county ranks sixth among the state’s 254 counties in the number of fatalities and seventh in the number of infection cases.
“With the BA.2 variant rapidly impacting the northeastern United States such that health and safety protocols are being reconsidered, and reimplemented, a delay in lifting Title 42 affords your administration additional time to mobilize a response to combat the new variant’s threat and protect the health and safety of all Americans,” the mayor wrote.
BA.1, BA.1.1, and BA.2 are the three common lineages of the Omicron variant of the CCP virus found in the United States. BA.2 accounted for 85.9 percent of infection cases for the week ending April 9, according to CDC data.
Biden’s decision to lift Title 42 has drawn concerns from both Republicans and Democrats.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), in a recent interview with Epoch Times sister media outlet NTD, questioned why Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris haven’t come to the southern border to talk with Border Patrol officers before making the decision to end the health provision.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), after a visit to the border city of Douglas, Arizona, told Fox News Digital that he believed there’s going to be a “crisis” if Title 42 is lifted without proper plans in place.
A total of 21 states—including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia—have joined in a lawsuit asking a federal court to block the Biden administration’s order to end Title 42. The lawsuit was initially filed by attorneys general in Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri on April 4.
“Ending Title 42 would be a disaster and further the chaos at the southwest border that is making it easier for drug cartels and human smugglers to advance their illicit practices in our country,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement.
“I implore you to prioritize the health and safety of my community, Texans and all Americans, and to reconsider the administration’s plan to lift Title 42,” Villalobos concluded.