Tester, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill Delaying End of Title 42 & Ensuring Comprehensive Plan in Place to Secure the Border

Senator also urged Homeland Security Secretary to address Border Patrol staffing shortages, secure northern border

Continuing his aggressive push to secure our border, beef up Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) resources, and institute a bipartisan fix to our broken immigration system, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today was joined by a bipartisan group of 10 of his colleagues in introducing the Public Health and Border Security Act, which would require the federal national emergency declarations for COVID-19 to be lifted before Title 42 could be terminated.

“Ending Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in place to handle the flow of migrants will put additional strain on federal and local law enforcement and negatively impact the situation at the southern border,” said Tester. “I’m also going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that we address staffing shortages at Customs and Border Patrol and to ensure that agents from the northern border won’t be frequently reassigned to handle any influx of migrants caused by the change in policy. The bottom line is this: we need to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system with a comprehensive, bipartisan solution and I’m calling on my Republican and Democratic colleagues to join me in getting it done.”

Tester’s bill prevents the Administration from picking and choosing which COVID-19 border policies it ends and extends, by preventing the termination of the Title 42 emergency authority until at least 60 days after ending the COVID-19 national emergency declaration. After the end of the national emergency, the Department of Homeland Security would have 30 days to submit to Congress a plan to address the impacts of the post-Title 42 migrant influx. That plan must be made in coordination with local governments, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations on the front-lines of the migrant crisis.

Tester introduced this legislation in response to the Biden Administration announcement that it will end Title 42 on May 23, 2022. Title 42 is a Centers for Disease Control public health policy to stop the spread of diseases in the U.S. that has allowed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expedite removal of most migrants and asylum seekers without immigration proceedings. Title 42 was first enacted by the Trump Administration in March 2020, and has been renewed throughout the Biden administration.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

This week, Tester also sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging him to provide a comprehensive plan outlining how DHS will address the increased strain on America’s immigration system and the increased security needs following the Administration’s decision to let Title 42 expire in May. His letter also pushed the Department to provide information about how it is addressing staffing shortages at CBP and to ensure that officers from northern ports of entry will not be frequently reassigned to the southern border.

Tester, former Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, has been Montana’s leading champion in ensuring America’s border security at the southern and northern borders. He recently fought to secure $3.85 billion for Land Ports of Entry to modernize and secure the Northern and Southern border in his bipartisan infrastructure legislation. He was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for the FY22 government funding bill, which provided over $14 billion for CBP, including over $425 million for border security technology. The bill also included over $1 billion for state, local, and Tribal law enforcement to help support border security efforts, combat drug trafficking, and keep communities safe.

Tester is also the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Assisting Narcotics and Trafficking Officers in Interdicting (ANTI) Drugs Act, which would increase resources for three programs – High Intensity Drug Task Forces (HIDTA), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and Operation Stonegarden – that support law enforcement efforts to combat the drug epidemic and boost border security.