(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) on Sunday blamed Title 42, the public health order that allows authorities to quickly expel migrants at the southern border, for the high numbers of apprehensions, because she said that when migrants are kicked out, they try over and over again to cross into the United States.
“Let’s talk about what the administration did just announce because it’s pretty big, this policy. They’re expanding the use of that same Title 42 policy, the pandemic era restrictions that allow for expulsion without guaranteed asylum hearings. And it’s going to allow them to dramatically step up expulsions of Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, Venezuelans, they make up the majority of those crossing. You oppose Title 42. Does that mean you oppose what the Biden administration is doing?” CBS’ Margaret Brennan asked.
“Well, it’s a complicated answer. So the administration in the absence of any legislation from the Congress has very few tools available. I’m a staunch opponent of Title 42. In fact, I think Title 42 is the reason why those apprehension – encounter numbers are so high because people kept trying over and over and over again. When you’re expelled from the border, you’re going to try in different areas,” Escobar told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“I think it also helped fuel the human trafficking that we’ve seen a significant increase in, and all of this started with the Trump administration. In my conversations with the Department of Homeland Security, because a Louisiana judge essentially created a situation where they have to continue to use Title 42,” the congresswoman said.
“They can’t go to a different policy, which was used prior to Title 42 called Title Eight. Now, Title Eight is – is much more punitive, and I think that is what the administration is ultimately going to go toward, once a judge allows the Biden administration to do away with Title 42,” she said.
“Could come in June, but even then, Margaret, we will not have had a legislative solution. So all of these executive branch efforts really are just temporary band-aids, whether it’s Title Eight, whether it’s Title 42, if we need to make sure that Congress acts,” the congresswoman said.
When asked why no Republicans from Congress were invited to go with President Biden to the border this week, Escobar said, “You’d have to ask the White House that question, you know. I have been working very closely with the administration. I know two of my colleagues who are coming on the trip have also been working very closely with the administration. I think.
“From my perspective, I want to spend as much time just sharing with the president, what we’re seeing what we’ve seen since 2014, the warning signs we’ve seen since 2014, and most importantly, what we can do going forward to focus on the solutions that our country needs that border communities need and a way that we can better treat everyone in the process with dignity,” she said.
Brennan pointed to the latest CBS polling, which showed only 38 percent of Americans approve of what the president is doing on immigration while 62 percent disapprove. She noted that immigration has been “consistently” one of Biden’s “weakest issues” and that last week was the first time he gave a speech on border policy.
When asked why it’s taken so long to get just this, Escobar said, “This challenge that we’re facing is so complex. I’m with you. I would have loved to have seen the administration lean in on immigration from day one.”
When asked why the administration didn’t, the congresswoman said, “Because, you know, you’d have to ask them that. I have been in Congress. I’m starting. I was just sworn in yesterday for my third term, and I’ve been working on border issues and border solutions since day one.
“The executive branch is not the only branch of government that needs to do its job, though, and I will tell you, I’ve worked very closely with Secretary Mayorkas. He has been phenomenal. Every idea that I have asked him to explore he has. Every collaboration I’ve asked him to engage in, he has. Where it’s been – where I’ve hit a brick wall is Congress, and frankly, Democrats and Republicans alike,” she said.
“I mean, last Congress, we had a majority. We passed, House Democrats did pass immigration bills. We didn’t do as much as I wish we would have, but many of my colleagues felt, why are we you know, basically working on all this immigration work when we have a 50/50 Senate and no Republicans willing to work with us,” Escobar said.
I’m hoping things change. There’s a bipartisan delegation going to El Paso from the Senate tomorrow, and I hope they see what the president will see today, which is opportunity, but also long overdue work,” the congresswoman said.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, the president’s policy of requiring Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Haitian, and Cuban migrants to apply for asylum on a cell phone app called CBP One while outside of the United States and wait for approval before being cleared to enter the country.
Brennan asked whether someone fleeing abject poverty has a cell phone to apply for access.
“Believe it or not most of and let me tell you, I’ve been in the immigration space for 30 years, I’ve been working on immigration, both as an advocate as a local government official, and now in Congress. I spent two weeks with migrants leading up to my trip back to DC to get sworn in, whether they were in custody or whether they were in a shelter, I had conversations,” Escobar said.
“The vast majority of refugees who are fleeing their home countries do have cell phones, that’s how they communicate with one another. That’s how they communicate with their folks at home, but I will tell you, we do need far more robust State Department involvement, especially for those who do not have access to that kind of technology. We need far greater education,” the congresswoman said.
“Many of the refugees that I have spoken to, especially over the last couple of weeks, are – have no concept of what the asylum process is. Their idea is I’m going to go to the border, I’m going to get a job, and I’m going to help my family, something all of us would do, of course,” she said.
“So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, whether it’s assisting those who don’t have a cell phone, access these services and legal pathways offered through CBP one, or whether it is edu- helping to educate folks about those legal pathways so that they have a better shot,” Escobar added.
Brennan said that one consistent criticism heard over the past few years – including during the Trump administration – was that when migrants are pushed back into Mexico, and they’re “awaiting some kind of action, they face a lot of violence, so if you criticize it during the Trump administration, you must be a critic during the Biden administration.”
“Absolutely,” Escobar said, “and that’s why I’m – I’m grateful that the president’s going to Mexico City to talk to the president.
“Every step of the journey along the way for these refugees, people who leave with little more than a backpack, and their hopes and dreams experience a nightmarish journey along the way, and many migrants have told me in fact that the – the most dangerous part of the journey is in Mexico, and so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but Margaret, not just in Mexico, but for the entire hemisphere,” she said.
“We are seeing people fleeing their home countries heading to Costa Rica, heading to countries all as all south of here. We have to make sure that diplomatically we are engaging at the highest levels, and finally giving the western hemisphere the kind of attention that it has lacked for a long time by, by the US government,” the congresswoman said.
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