President Biden's continued mishandling of the immigration crisis at the southern border has turned several members of his own party into critics. Now that list even includes notable progressive Beto O'Rourke.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate knocked the president this week for ending Title 42 — a Trump-era rule that allows border agents to turn away illegal immigrants over COVID-19 health concerns — without a plan to stem the massive tide of migrants seeking entry into the country.
“It does not make sense to end this until there is a real plan and the capacity in place to handle those and address those that come over,” O’Rourke told the Texas Tribune on Tuesday. “I have yet to hear a plan from the Biden administration to address the dynamic we will have on the border once Title 42 ends.”
The rebuke is somewhat surprising given that O'Rourke was a frequent critic of the federal government's use of Title 42 during the Trump administration. However, political winds appear to have shifted on the issue, as illegal immigration continues to rock border communities.
The Biden administration announced it would end the emergency health order in May to a flurry of criticism. A Morning Consult survey found the move marked the administration's most unpopular policy to date, topping a lengthy list.
Many — including current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) — fear it's all but inevitable that with Title 42 no longer at agents' disposal, the number of migrants showing up at U.S.-Mexico border crossings will surge to even higher levels.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), too, called the move a "frightening decision" that will surely lead to the worsening of an already unprecedented crisis. He was soon joined in disapproval by Arizona Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema.
Sensing the changing sentiment, O'Rourke settled on a new perspective on the order, offering some critique while maintaining his opposition to the border enforcement measure.
“What [Title 42] has done is produced a situation where the same person is crossing multiple times a week, and under [the order] that Border Patrol agent simply turns that person back around and then that person tries to cross the next day,” he argued. “They’re not arrested, not detained, there are no consequences for someone who is not following our laws when they try to come into this country, and it means that this country is not following its laws when it comes to those who are trying to make a legitimate claim for asylum.”
But, he added, “Everyone is legitimately concerned about the lack of a plan. We should hold the federal government accountable for doing its job, and they’re not doing that.”