Acting ICE Director: 3,000 Single Adults Expelled Daily Under Public Health Law

By Susan Jones | May 14, 2021 | 8:32am EDT
Border Patrol agents detain a group of Brazilians who crossed into the United States from Mexico on April 30, 2021 near San Luis, Arizona. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Border Patrol agents detain a group of Brazilians who crossed into the United States from Mexico on April 30, 2021 near San Luis, Arizona. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

( - As bad as the illegal immigration situation is right now under President Biden's "humanitarian" border policies, it would be much worse if Title 42 of the Public Health Act were not in effect.

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tae Johnson told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday that his agency is expelling at least 3,000 single adults every day under Title 42.

In March 2020, the Trump administration invoked Title 42, which suspends the entry of people "to prevent spread of communicable diseases," in this case, COVID-19.

President Biden has not lifted the Title 42, which is now being challenged in court by immigration activists.

"Title 42 is absolutely critical," Johnson said:

"Without it, we'd have, you know, we would have so many negative outcomes in our detention facilities. And, you know, I suspect that most of the intake would have been shut down based on significant numbers of quarantines, and you know, extremely high positivity rates at certain facilities.

“So the only way we've been able to survive and have so few COVID-related deaths in custody over the last 15 months, it's been because of Title 42."

Johnson said he's not aware of any plans to lift Title 42 voluntarily, but he said the courts may demand it. And if that happens, it would strain ICE funding and capacity to absorb the thousands of mostly single people who are now being deported for public health reasons:

Well, the biggest impact is just going to be the single adults that are coming across the Southern Border that are largely being expelled via Title 42. The last report I received was somewhere around 3,000 single adults per day. The impact of 3,000 people a day coming into ICE custody in the midst of a pandemic could be, you know, could significantly impact our operations.

On the family unit front, we are only expelling about 25 percent of the family units right now, so that will be a little bit of an impact, but nothing as significant as the impact -- as it would be for single adults.

The Biden administration is welcoming unaccompanied children, so Title 42 no longer applies to them.

As of May 2, 2021, there are approximately 22,264 UC in HHS care, the Health and Human Services Department said in a recent fact sheet. This does not include the children who already have been sent on to relatives or sponsors in this country.

'My community would not be happy'

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told the committee, "I hope Title 42 doesn't go away."  My understanding is you get about 3,000 single adults every day. About 90 to 95 percent of those single adults are expelled back under this 1944 (public health) law,” Cuellar said:

If you look at the Del Rio area, you get Cubans, Haitians, and Venezuelans, mainly; then you go to the Laredo area, you get mainly Mexicans that are coming in, single adults; and then you go to the (Rio Grande) Valley, that's where you get -- 15 percent are kids, 36 percent, 37 percent are family units, but in the Laredo area, if you were to release all those adults into our community, I will tell you my community would not be happy.

And I know you have to follow whatever thee administration says, but I can tell you, my community would not want to have where most of the people coming into the Laredo area are single adults and to be released in our area, my community would not be happy about that.

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