Sen. Tom Tillis, R.N.C., is warning that if allowed to end Title 42 in the coming weeks, as he is pushing for a compromise on immigration, border patrol agents will “lose control of the border.” public health care in exchange for a path to citizenship for two million illegal immigrants.
Tillis spoke on “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday as Title 42, which allows rapid deportations of immigrants at the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to expire on Dec. 21 with a court order. Both Republicans and Democrats have warned that the number of immigrants will increase once the order expires. The Biden administration has now filed an appeal against the court’s decision, but no decision will be made during the Dec. 21 shutdown.
Tillis issued a stark warning while highlighting efforts in the House to reach a bipartisan solution, accusing the administration of failing to address the crisis. The administration said it had a plan, but lawmakers dismissed it as insufficient.
“What the administration needs to accept is that we’re going to fix the problem they created,” he said. “In the last year of the Trump administration, we had about half a million illegal crossings. That’s managed for border control. Now we have over 2 million. If title 42 goes away, that’s 3 million or more.” ‘may be.’
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“And the Border Service told me to my face that they are going to lose border control,” he said. “They are already spread thin. This is a crisis that the administration refuses to accept, and we have to address it.“
Tillis is working with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., on an immigration system that would extend Title 42 for at least a year, with a metric component to the extensions.
Other elements of border security include hiring more Border Patrol agents, as well as increased pay, more resources at the border and the creation of regional processing centers to process asylum claims — all included in last year’s Bilateral Border Solutions Act. It also includes resources to arrest, deport, and expeditiously remove illegal immigrants.
Funding for such measures could be at least $25 billion and could exceed $40 billion, a source said this week. This will be combined with a path to citizenship for nearly two million illegal immigrants who are either protected or eligible for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
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That population — who came to the U.S. as minors — has been the focus of border security measures in the past, including previous immigration deals under the Trump administration.
The proposal has caused some Republicans to balk at illegal immigration at a time when border skirmishes are at record highs.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., you’ll hear a lot this week about the so-called Dreamers and the need for us to give them some kind of legal status. “Right now, Joe Biden is creating hundreds of thousands more Dreamers every month. What we need to do is secure our border, prevent the historic flood of illegal aliens coming into our country, before we address other issues. Our immigration system.”
Tillis said he disagreed with his Republican colleague on that point.
“I think what we’re proposing here is to look at a small segment of the population that even President Trump has supported as a path to citizenship,” he said. “But what do they have to do. They have to be in school. They have to be gainfully employed. They can be in the military. They can’t have a criminal record. And they can never be in any federal state. they couldn’t get help.”
“These are people who came to this country as minors and are now doctors, scientists, teachers, hundreds of people serving in the military. I think the American people understand that this is fundamentally different from the concept of amnesty,” he said. “It gives them access, and it’s not automatic. They have to work and maintain those highest standards. And to do that, we’re going to have a closed border and we’re going to shut down the cartels. That seems to me to be something worth working on.”
It’s unclear how many votes such a compromise would win, especially as time is running out before Republicans take over the House in early January.
In addition, Democrats and the White House have pushed hard for a broader amnesty for at least 11 million illegal immigrants since the Biden administration took office — and some Democrats may oppose border security measures.
Tillis said, however, that a future deal does not include a broader path to citizenship.
“The White House is going to get what we agreed to here, nothing more,” he said.