In an attempt to save her seat, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is starting to sound like Donald Trump on immigration.
President Joe Biden is about to make the southern border crisis worse. Somehow, the pandemic is still bad enough to justify extending the worthless mask mandate on planes. There’s also enough of a national emergency to continue the student loan moratorium, according to the White House.
But at the southern border, the coronavirus crisis has apparently ended. So the White House has announced it will end so-called Title 42, a public health precaution imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows the federal government to quickly expel most migrants based on the need to limit communicable diseases. The Trump administration imposed the restriction two years ago. Biden left it in place until now. Officials have used it more than 1.5 million times to expel migrants.
It’s amazing how the contours of the “emergency” correspond with Biden’s policy priorities. That’s downright thoughtful of the virus.
The Biden administration now plans to end Title 42 on May 23. The delay is intended to give officials time to prepare for the tidal wave of people seeking to cross the border once the emergency measure is lifted. Officials estimate that up to 18,000 migrants a day could surge across the southern border. At that pace, there would be around 540,000 people seeking entry in a month.
For three of the four years Trump was in office, there were fewer than 540,000 apprehensions at the Southwest border in the entire year.
The coming influx of illegal immigrants will be a political disaster for Biden and his party. If you don’t believe it, consider the response of vulnerable Democrats facing re-election, such as Cortez Masto.
“This is the wrong way to do this, and it will leave the administration unprepared for a surge at the border,” Cortez Masto she told Politico. “We should be working to fix our immigration system by investing in border security and treating immigrant families with dignity. Instead, the administration is acting without a detailed plan.”
Calling for more border security while decrying a “surge at the border” is downright Trumpian. Next thing you know, she’ll be chanting “build that wall” at campaign events.
She’s telling voters what they want to hear, but her record shows how disingenuous this is.
In June 2020, Cortez Masto signed onto a letter with other Senate Democrats demanding the Trump administration stop using Title 42. The “CDC asylum ban … further endanger(s) populations at risk of harm. The CDC order appears designed to further on ongoing agenda to exclude asylum seekers,” the letter said. The signing senators then bemoaned that more than 20,000 people “have been expelled under the CDC order.” But now that the number has reached seven figures, Cortez Masto is criticizing the Biden administration for doing what she once demanded.
Last August, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, proposed an amendment to extend Title 42 authority. Cortez Masto joined her fellow Democrats in voting “no,” defeating the measure.
That’s no surprise. Cortez Masto has long governed like someone who supports open borders, the occasional rhetorical fig leaf about border security notwithstanding. She’s been a vocal supporter of amnesty. In 2019, she introduced a bill to move potential illegal immigrants from detention facilities into local communities. She attacked Trump for wanting a border wall and for his efforts to deport illegal immigrants.
So Cortez Masto’s angst about the Biden administration’s lack of a plan at the border rings hollow. Until a tough election was around the corner, she showed little concern about surges in illegal immigration.
Contact Victor Joecks at email@example.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.