Democrats have long known that the Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42 would have to be lifted as other pandemic restrictions eased, but many were caught flat-footed last week by the Biden administration’s plan to lift the public health order next month, Politico reports. The problem wasn’t that they were blindsided by the announcement. Rather, the party has been unable to settle on a unified message on immigration and border policy It is a disconnect the party cannot afford with their slim Senate majority hanging in the balance. Republicans have spent millions of dollars on ads painting President Biden and his party as supporters of open borders, responsible for sowing chaos at the U.S. southern border, That was before the administration announced its plan to end the Title 42 rule in late May. In March alone, GOP candidates in races up and down the ballot ran more than 80 television ads — everywhere from Alabama to Nebraska to Ohio — that mention securing the U.S. southern border, said the ad tracker AdImpact.
While progressives have largely called the rescission of Title 42 — which allowed border agents quickly to kick out thousands of migrants — long overdue, moderates have slammed the administration for proceeding without a plan to handle an expected surge of migrants. The four most vulnerable Senate Democrats — Mark Kelly of Arizona, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire — have all spoken out against the administration’s move, echoing GOP concerns about a coming spike in migrants arriving at the border. Kelly called it the “wrong decision,” adding that “it’s clear that this administration’s lack of a plan to deal with this crisis will further strain our border communities.” A solution remains out of sight. Biden, who campaigned largely on reversing Trump-era immigration policies, has repeatedly run up against legal, logistical and political challenges in his efforts to reform the immigration system. Lawmakers have failed for decades to agree on a comprehensive immigration reform.