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The End of Title 42
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The End of Title 42

The Biden administration is sending troops to the border in preparation for a potential migrant surge.

Happy Thursday! And May the Fourth be with you.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Russian officials claimed Wednesday Ukrainian forces attempted to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in a drone attack—an accusation Ukraine strongly denies. Verified video footage depicts two drones exploding in the vicinity of the Kremlin. Some analysts have suggested it could have been part of a Russian false-flag operation, but little evidence has emerged that could identify who was behind the assault.
  • The Biden administration announced a new $300 million security assistance package for Ukraine on Wednesday, tapping into previously approved congressional aid to send Ukraine HIMARS ammunition, howitzers, artillery and mortar rounds, TOW missiles, Hydra-70 aircraft rockets, anti-armor weapons systems, and more. The aid package will come from Pentagon stockpiles in an effort to get the materiel into Ukrainian hands as Kyiv prepares to launch its much-anticipated spring counteroffensive.
  • Members of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee approved another 25-basis-point interest rate hike on Wednesday, raising the central bank’s target federal funds rate to a range between 5 percent and 5.25 percent—the highest level since early 2008—while signaling they may pause on additional hikes going forward. “People did talk about pausing, but not so much at this meeting,” Fed chair Jerome Powell told reporters. “We feel like we’re getting closer or maybe even there.”
  • The U.S. Navy announced Wednesday another merchant vessel—this one a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker—was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy earlier in the day while traversing the Strait of Hormuz en route to the United Arab Emirates. Iran had seized a tanker on April 27, making yesterday’s incident the second in a week. Iranian officials did not deny the seizure took place, but declined to explain why the ships were forced to turn around.
  • A new Centers for Disease Control report released this week found the rate of U.S. drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl has nearly quadrupled in recent years, from 5.7 fatal overdoses per 100,000 people in 2016 to 21.6 in 2021. Although fatal overdoses involving methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin also increased slightly over that time period, fentanyl now accounts for the distinct plurality of overdoses in the country. 
  • The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the first vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a contagious pathogen that kills thousands of people in the U.S. over the age of 65 every year. The single-dose shot—created by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)—is approved for people ages 60 and older, and it was found in clinical trials to be 94 percent effective against severe illness. Pending a final recommendation from the CDC, GSK is hoping to have shots available at scale ahead of the next RSV season in late fall and early winter.
  • New York’s state legislature voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would ban the use of gas-powered stoves, water heaters, furnaces, and dryers in most new buildings starting in 2026 for structures less than eight stories and 2029 for anything taller. If Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signs the legislation into law as expected, New York will become the first state to enact such a ban—though some cities have already restricted gas hookups in new buildings.
  • Democratic Rep. Colin Allred of Texas—a former NFL linebacker—announced Wednesday he is launching a U.S. Senate bid, hoping to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2024. 

Preparing for a Migrant Surge

A Border Patrol vehicle exits a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Station for processing migrants after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on December 19, 2022. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/Getty Images)

Active-duty marines and soldiers hailing from the American Southwest may get an unexpected homecoming in the next few weeks when they’re deployed not to some faraway desert, but to the U.S. border with Mexico. 

Defense Department press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced Tuesday that 1,500 active-duty U.S. troops would join Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southern border for 90 days to perform administrative tasks, freeing up the CBP agents to do enforcement at the border. “Military personnel will not directly participate in law enforcement activities,” Ryder said.

Immigration restrictions under Title 42—a pandemic-era set of rules designed to keep individuals with the virus from remaining in the U.S.—are set to expire next week, and the Biden administration has been scrambling to piece together an immigration framework that prevents a flood of immigrants crossing the border. This week’s troop deployment is but one in a flurry of such moves, but it’s unclear how effective the policies will be at managing an influx of migrants. 

“The Biden administration is trying to signal two things,” Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told TMD. “I think they’re trying to signal to the American public that they’re doing everything they can, and they’re getting as ready as they can, to handle the expected increase in migration. And, I think they’re trying to signal in every way they can to migrants that the border is not going to be open after Title 42.”

Title 42 allows for the quick expulsion of migrants seeking asylum at the southern border without affording them the opportunity to apply for asylum otherwise required by law. The Trump administration invoked the rule to stop the spread of COVID-19, but in practice, both the Trump and Biden administrations have relied on it to manage the flow of people across the southern border. Single adult migrants from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Venezuela have been the main targets of the policy. But because a Title 42 expulsion does not involve deporting would-be migrants back to their home country, many solo adults have become repeat crossers—raising the total number of encounters at the border.

The number of encounters between CBP and migrants where Title 42 has been used has risen steadily since December. In March—the latest month for which data is available—there were more than 87,000 such encounters, an average of just under 3,000 a day. Troy Miller, the head of CBP, said last month the agency was bracing for around 10,000 encounters per day after Title 42 is gone.

“We do expect that encounters at our southern border will increase as smugglers are seeking to take advantage of this change and already are hard at work spreading disinformation that the border will be open after that,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last week. “High encounters will place a strain on our entire system, including our dedicated and heroic workforce and our communities. Let me be clear: Our border is not open and will not be open after May 11.”

The border city of El Paso, Texas, declared a “state of emergency” this week in anticipation of the surge in border crossings, allowing the city to set up emergency shelters and access federal funds. Oscar Leeser, the city’s Democratic mayor, said tent camps full of thousands of migrants are lining the streets of Juarez, Mexico across the border, ready to cross after May 11, when asylum seekers will once again be released into the United States, pending an immigration hearing, rather than being expelled immediately.

While an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico announced Tuesday will allow the U.S. to continue sending migrants to Mexico as it had agreed in October and January—now as deportations, instead of expulsions—the end of the Title 42 era will make it more time-consuming to process individuals making asylum claims. 

The Biden administration argues that the 1,500 troops are needed to relieve the administrative burden on CBP, a separate task from dealing with migrants themselves. The active duty troops—who are easier to mobilize quickly than National Guard units—will join the roughly 2,500 National Guard troops already stationed at the border. 

Biden is not the first president to send the U.S. military to the border. Former President Donald Trump deployed several thousand troops south in 2018, ahead of the midterm elections, to counter a “migrant caravan.” (Current Vice President Kamala Harris, then a senator, panned the move as a political stunt.) Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both sent National Guard service members to the border

Despite the precedent, there’s been bipartisan concern over the decision to send in troops. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menedez, the Democratic chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday the Biden administration’s “militarization of the border is unacceptable,” arguing it failed to plan for the end of the “Trump-era” measure.  

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Wednesday sending troops to the border was “ridiculous theater” that “will not change the outcome” of the expiration, calling on the administration not to end Title 42. “They’re taking out of the toolbox one of the most effective tools they have,” he said.  

Elizabeth Jacobs, director of regulatory affairs and policy for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates limiting immigration, said demanding Title 42 remain in place misses the point. “Title 42 is a bandaid for bad border policy,” she told TMD.  

In recent weeks, there’s been movement among House Republicans on two parallel bills from the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees that would limit the number of people eligible for asylum, introduce a fee for asylum applications, make it easier to deport people, restart construction on the border wall, and increase CBP staff, among other measures. The negotiations have pitted immigration moderates—especially Hispanic GOP representatives—against hardliners. Even if the bills made it through the House on party-line votes, they would not be expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

For its part, the executive branch has been instituting a series of other new policies over the last several weeks to try to manage the expected inflow. Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last week the U.S. will open migrant processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala to refer migrants for refugee status or other legal pathways to the U.S., Canada, or Spain. The centers will be able to process about 5,000-6,000 applications per month. 

Another controversial new rule announced in February would make migrants who arrive at the U.S. border between ports of entry ineligible for asylum if they passed through a third country and did not apply for asylum there. The rule would incentivize migrants to go to official ports of entry and try other legal avenues rather than sneak across the border. 

The possibility of litigation blocking Title 42’s expiration remains. “Migrants are clearly paying a lot of attention to the policy,” Gellat said, “but if we’re in kind of a murky legal landscape, it’s unclear if migrants will see that as the time to come or the time to keep waiting.”

Worth Your Time

  • Small-dollar donors are ruining American democracy, David Byler argues—with charts—in the Washington Post. “For Republicans, small-dollar donors have bankrolled bomb-throwers who treat Congress like the Thunderdome,” he writes. “For Democrats, they have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on ridiculous, fantasy-driven campaigns. And even when they flood a race with cash, they do little to lessen the influence of big donors. In the 2020 election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump received $543 million and $347 million, respectively, in donations less than $200. But they still kept courting the wealthy. Both men used joint committees to solicit six-digit checks at tiny, exclusive fundraisers. And they welcomed help from super PACs, outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums. The story is the same in marquee down-ballot races. Candidates who rake in small-dollar donations still receive plenty of money from big donors. In most elections, small-dollar donors don’t connect online to wage war on moneyed interests. They donate to scratch an emotional itch. And by doing so, they make real-life politics more like the internet: hospitable to trolls, indulgent of political fantasy and deeply exhausting.” 
  • As Ukraine gears up for a major counteroffensive, The Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg and staff writer Anne Applebaum visited the war-torn country and came back with an incredibly thorough examination of the conflict. Their conclusion: Now is the time to back the Ukrainians to the hilt. “Uniquely, the United States has the power to determine how, and how quickly, the war of attrition turns into something quite different,” they write. “It is true that the U.S. has supported Ukraine, not a traditional American ally, at a level that was also once unimaginable, comparable only to the Lend-Lease program of World War II. We have provided Ukraine with intelligence and weapons, taken care of Ukrainian refugees, put strict sanctions on Russia. So far, there has been no secondary disaster. Despite a thousand predictions to the contrary, Europeans did not freeze to death last winter when they were compelled to seek alternatives to Russian gas. World War III did not break out. But over the next few months, as the Ukrainians take their best shot at winning the war, the democratic world will have to decide whether to help them do so. Sovereignty, safety, and justice—shouldn’t Americans want the war to end that way too?”

Presented Without Comment

Mediaite: Vivek Ramaswamy Paid to Have His Soros Fellowship and Covid-Era Role Scrubbed from Wikipedia Page

“Ramaswamy’s Wikipedia page includes the warning, ‘this article has multiple issues,’ with a note that it ‘contains paid contributions” and ‘may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia’s content policies, particularly neutral point of view.’ 

The source of these concerns are changes made by an editor with the screen name ‘Jhofferman,’ who has disclosed that he was paid by Ramaswamy to make alterations to the page.

According to the article’s version history, the editor removed lines about Ramaswamy’s receipt of a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans in 2011. … Also removed from the page on February 9, 2023 was Ramaswamy’s role on the state of Ohio’s Covid-19 Response Team. 

Toeing the Company Line

  • In the newsletters: The Dispatch Politics team wades into Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s prolonged absence from the Senate, Nick speculates about (🔒) who could have been behind the drone attack on the Kremlin, and Jonah knocks those (🔒) who downplay worrying crime trends just because things aren’t yet as bad as they were in the 1990s.
  • On the site today: Harvest and Charlotte report on an Afghan news startup based in the U.S., Price explains a controversial Trump administration policy that could make a comeback, and Richard Goldberg and Sarah Moriarty argue the U.S. should use sanctions to bring home American hostages like Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich.

Let Us Know

Has the Biden administration taken adequate steps to reduce the expected inflow of migrants with the end of Title 42?

Declan Garvey is the executive editor at the Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2019, he worked in public affairs at Hamilton Place Strategies and market research at Echelon Insights. When Declan is not assigning and editing pieces, he is probably watching a Cubs game, listening to podcasts on 3x speed, or trying a new recipe with his wife.

Esther Eaton is a former deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch.

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.