Beto O'Rourke: Title 42 COVID Illegal Immigration Restrictions Never Should Have Been Put in Place


It’s a bit difficult to take Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s run at the Texas governor’s mansion too seriously these days, given that his likely defeat at the hands of GOP Gov. Greg Abbott this November will put him into the Harold Stassen ranks of great serial election losers.

Therefore, if O’Rourke generates attention these days, it’s usually because he has either a) said something absurd or b) shown how desperate he is.

On Sunday, he managed to hit both of those birds with one stone.

In an appearance on MSNBC, O’Rourke said that not only was it time for Title 42 expulsions of illegal immigrants to end, but that Title 42 expulsions never should have taken place to begin with, even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(At The Western Journal, we’ve been documenting President Joe Biden’s decision to let Title 42 expire and what it’ll mean for the border crisis. We’ll give you the news and analysis straight, even as the mainstream media will try to soften the blow for the Biden administration. You can help us by subscribing.)

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Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced it would let Title 42 expire. The World War II-era piece of U.S. public health code allowed for the summary expulsion of individuals attempting to enter from a foreign country, regardless of whether they had an asylum claim or not.

While it was invoked by then-President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic, the current administration mostly kept it mostly in place except for a carve-out for unaccompanied minors.

However, the administration declared it would be ending Title 42 on May 23, a move that almost certainly will supercharge the border crisis.

Republicans have been unanimous in blasting the decision, and even some Democrats — particularly those in swing or border states — have broken with the White House on the move.

Not Beto, though. Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” he insisted we never should have invoked Title 42 in the first place.

“I think it’s time to end Title 42,” O’Rourke said.

“I don’t think we should have ever implemented it. It’s a very cynical reading of U.S. law that, again, has done nothing to improve public health or safety.”

“And when I listen to Border Patrol agents who are patrolling on the border, they tell me it actually increases the number of migrant crossing attempts, it creates more chaos, because — Jonathan, as you know, those agents are forced to turn away those migrants and asylum seekers without processing them, detaining them or allowing them to apply for asylum,” he continued.

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“So they’re crossing again and again, maybe every single day of the week.”

Wonder what impediment could stop them from crossing over and over again, “maybe every single day of the week.” Think a wall might work? Just a theory.

O’Rourke then went on to mumble a bunch of nothings that could best be described as small print to try to qualify an exceptionally daft statement. He said we need “to make sure that we have the capacity in our border communities to process those who will now be able to lawfully claim or seek to claim asylum.” (We don’t, he knows we don’t, and he knows the administration isn’t trying — and even if the administration did, it would be months before we were ready, at least).

He said that officials at the border “haven’t yet heard a plan from the Biden administration” and that he knows “that the administration can come up with something.” One of those two statements is true. You won’t find it behind the second door.

“But, Jonathan, yes, it’s time to end Title 42. Let’s just make sure that we’re doing it responsibly and that we’re doing it in partnership with the border communities who will bear the brunt of any policy changes coming from Washington, D.C.,” O’Rourke concluded.

Right. In April 2022, that statement is on par with: “But, Jonathan, yes, it’s time to make people’s Social Security numbers public domain, let’s just make sure we’re doing it responsibly.”

We should put this into perspective. In July 2021, the worst month numerically of the Biden border crisis, there were 213,593 apprehensions on the southwest land border, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Should Title 42 expulsions be ended?

In September 2021, NBC News reported on an internal Department of Homeland Security call with high-ranking officials during which “Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked whether the department was prepared for a worst-case scenario in which 350,000 to 400,000 migrants cross the border” if Title 42 were allowed to expire in October.

Before the repeal was announced on April 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its estimate was for up to 18,000 illegal immigrants per day apprehended at the border when Title 42 is lifted, according to ABC News — 540,000 a month, compared with the February number of 164,973 apprehensions.

How do you handle that responsibly?

The answer is that you don’t, but we aren’t dealing with a responsible rhetorician.

After all, O’Rourke doesn’t think Title 42 protections should have ever been invoked — presumably even during the height of the pandemic, when giant cities were ghost slabs of concrete and glass and legal entry into this or any country on Earth was all but impossible.

His arguments boil down to a) it’s a willful misinterpretation of U.S. law, b) it didn’t improve health or safety and c) expelled illegal immigrants just kept re-entering anyway.

On the first count, Title 42 expulsions because of the COVID-19 pandemic have been upheld by the courts, and even a desultory reading of the code indicates its applicability:

“Whenever the Surgeon General determines that by reason of the existence of any communicable disease in a foreign country there is serious danger of the introduction of such disease into the United States, and that this danger is so increased by the introduction of persons or property from such country that a suspension of the right to introduce such persons and property is required in the interest of the public health, the Surgeon General, in accordance with regulations approved by the President, shall have the power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property from such countries or places as he shall designate in order to avert such danger, and for such period of time as he may deem necessary for such purpose.”

Furthermore, if you were going to limit immigration from one specific country to improve health and safety during the pandemic, it would be Mexico.

When the establishment media weren’t battering Trump or Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for their response to COVID, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was getting blasted for his extremely lax COVID policies — and he’s a leftist, so you can bet it’s really bad when the lockdown-scolds came for him.

Furthermore, we know the CDC wasn’t forcing illegal immigrants to follow its own COVID guidance while they were in detention. The logic on that one doesn’t seem to work out, either.

And then there’s the final point — that these illegal immigrants will just try to enter again if they’re summarily deported. But that’s an argument for better border security, not the abandonment of Title 42.

Our country already set a record for illegal immigrant land apprehensions in 2021, even as the pandemic continued — and Beto would have had us experience the chaos we’re about to reap for the entirety of the Biden administration.

But then, O’Rourke isn’t a serious man. He’s behind in the polls and he knows his best chance to get elected is to pretend to be moderate enough to get some on-the-fence voters while riling up the far left and the amnesty activists to get the Democratic base out to the voting stations.

It’s desperate rhetoric, and certainly not the kind of thing that one expects will catapult him to victory.

However, if this kind of fatuous talk gets just enough attention from the left and not enough attention from the right, maybe he’ll manage to keep the race close enough to get nominated for some other losing effort.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture