Senate Democrats Fracturing Over Border Security

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The spectacle of tens of thousands of illegal aliens rushing the border following the end of Title 42 has Democratic senators from red and purple states wringing their hands about what to do. How can they satisfy the demands of open borders advocates who supply their campaigns with money and volunteers while simultaneously promising the rest of their constituents that they support border security?

Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown is about as far left as a Senate Democrat can get. But Ohio is trending redder every election (Trump carried the state by a comfortable 500,000 votes in 2020), and Brown is not about to commit political suicide and follow Joe Biden and most of the rest of the Democratic caucus off a cliff.

“It’s clear to me presidents of both parties have failed on this. And we need to send more resources to the border,” Brown said in an interview. “We need two more years to get this right.”

That’s why Brown is signing on to a bipartisan proposal to extend Title 42 for an additional two years in hopes that Congress can pass a comprehensive immigration bill.

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It’s not going to happen, of course. Congress is not going to come together to pass an extension of Title 42 any more than the pie-in-the-sky notion that Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure. But the Title 42 extension gives Brown and other red and purple states Democrats some much-needed cover as the scope of Biden’s failed immigration enforcement policies come into focus.


In one camp there’s Manchin, Brown, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and the Independent Sinema, all incumbents in red and purple states where border security fuels GOP attacks nearly every election cycle. While the Democratic Senate shows few signs of quick movement, they say immediate action is needed to deal with the influx of migrants expected at the U.S.-Mexico border as President Joe Biden warns of a “chaotic” transition from the expiring border policy.

Then there are Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who argue that the time for the administration’s so-called Title 42 authority has come and gone. They aren’t shy about smacking down their Democratic colleagues’ proposal.

Lujan called Title 42 “something that was put in place by the previous administration by Stephen Miller,” which isn’t true at all. It was the CDC’s idea to close the border.

And perhaps Lujan didn’t get the message, but Biden actually expanded Title 42 and implemented other restrictive border measures. Only the prospect of the Supreme Court ordering the end of Title 42 forced Biden to act.

As for the group of Democrats willing to extend Title 42, they can’t understand their Democratic colleagues’ resistance.

“This is ridiculous,” Senator Manchin said in an interview. “I’ve signed on to the bill that I can sign on to, that I believe in, and I think there’s a lot that needs to be done. Whatever moves, I’m happy.”

The bill to extend Title 42 is being sponsored by Sinema and North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis. And while their bill would mirror current Title 42 policy, only a handful of senators have signed on to the legislation.

“This applies to people who are crossing the border illegally. They’re breaking the law. Have them do it the legal way: Go through the courts. Just don’t go crossing the river,” said Senator Tester.

For many other Democrats, extending pandemic-imposed limits is the wrong way to control the border. They argue that the expulsion authority blocked legal pathways for migrants to seek asylum and as a result, it amounted to a human rights violation.

“It’s what appears to be a very simple solution to a very difficult question,” said Menendez, who opposes anything resembling a restoration of Title 42. “Nobody wants to deal with the real causes of why we have people coming to the southern border.”

The “real causes” of people coming to the southern border are no mystery. Bad governments that can’t protect their own citizens from drug gangs, along with an invitation to come here from Joe Biden, are the major reasons for the tsunami of refugees. But this is a hemispheric problem that won’t be solved by allowing millions of people into the United States without proper vetting or any regard for what the newcomers will do and where they’ll go once they arrive.

It’s a problem that demands leadership. And in this, Joe Biden and the Democrats would rather play politics with the issue than address it.

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