Tester’s Bipartisan Bill Aims to Delay End of Title 42, Ensure Comprehensive Border Security Plan Put in Place

Senator continues push to defend Montana and ensure our borders are secure

Continuing his aggressive push to secure the Southern border, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today was joined by a bipartisan group of his colleagues in re-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 can be terminated.

“My top priority is defending Montana and that means taking on anyone, including President Biden, to ensure our borders are secure,” said Tester. “I oppose the Biden Administration’s plan to end Title 42 without a real plan in place. Montanans know that we need a common sense solution to secure our borders, stop the flow of fentanyl, and fix our broken immigration system.”

Tester’s bipartisan bill would ensure the Biden Administration has a plan in place to secure the Southern border before terminating Title 42. 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. This legislation 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 bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to submit to Congress a plan to address the impacts of the post-Title 42 migrant influx within 30 days. The Administration recently announced it will end all COVID-19 emergency authorities on May 11, 2023.

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

Tester first introduced this legislation last year, in response to the Biden Administration announcement that it would end Title 42 on May 23, 2022, a deadline they have since extended.

Last year, Tester also urged DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide a comprehensive plan outlining how DHS would address the increased strain on America’s immigration system and the increased security needs if the Administration were to let Title 42 expire. 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 is Montana’s leading champion in ensuring America’s border security at the southern and northern borders. He 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 2023 government funding bill, which provided over $80 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and border security efforts. The bill provided $7.3 billion to secure areas between ports of entry, $230 million border security technology, and funding to hire additional border security officers. 

During the debate on the funding bill, Tester also offered an amendment that would have blocked the Biden Administration efforts to terminate Title 42 and provided over $8 billion in additional funding to secure the southern border, build physical barriers where needed, and hire additional legal and mission support staff. Unfortunately, his amendment was rejected.

Tester also continues to push the Biden Administration to end the vaccine mandate for Canadian truck drivers entering the U.S., fully re-open the northern border to pre-pandemic hours, and is 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.