President Joe Biden's decision to end Title 42 — a Trump-era rule allowing border agents to turn away illegal immigrants over COVID-19 health concerns — has been one of the most unpopular of his presidency, arousing concerns from both sides of the political aisle amid the country's ongoing border crisis.
Last week, open-borders Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, feeling pressure from constituents, turned on the president over the controversial move.
Now, even Biden's own Department of Homeland Security chief is venting frustrations over the president's plan, according to a new report from Axios.
The outlet reported Friday that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has privately told members of Congress that he is upset with the administration's handling of the policy and anticipates its ending will trigger another increase in migrant encounters at the nation's beleaguered southern border.
After all, it is the secretary who is ultimately charged with protecting the border and overseeing the repeal of the policy, Axios noted.
In a statement to the outlet, DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa shied away from offering public criticism, saying only that "as Secretary Mayorkas has said repeatedly, Title 42 is a public health authority — not an immigration authority — and he defers to the public health experts at the CDC for any decisions related to it."
But she added: "As he has also repeatedly said, we anticipate an increase in migrant encounters after the lifting of Title 42, and he is leading a whole-of-government response to apprehend, process and remove from the country those who are not eligible for relief."
The White House, on the other hand, offered a much rosier outlook on the rollout.
"DHS has a plan and we’re working to implement it, and we will continue to work with Congress to implement the lifting of Title 42 in an as orderly and humane way as possible," an official said.
Mayorkas, too, has insisted at the least that there is a plan — something many remain doubtful about. But he has been careful not to divulge the details of that plan publicly, noting that adversarial actors would certainly take advantage of the information.
"I think we have to be very mindful of the fact that we are addressing enemies, and those enemies are the cartels and the smugglers, and I will not provide our plans to them. We are going to proceed with our execution, carefully, methodically, in anticipating different scenarios," he told CNN this week.
However, given the administration's botched handling of the current immigration crisis, it is reasonable to assume that whatever the plan is, it won't be enough to stem the tide of migrants rushing into the country in anticipation of lenient treatment.
In Fiscal Year 2022, border agents have already encountered more than 1 million illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.