Tim Scott proposes reinstating Title 42 border restrictions due to surge in fentanyl overdose deaths
GOFFSTOWN, N.H. – EXCLUSIVE – Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina wants to “reinstate” the Title 42 immigration restrictions, which are set to sunset this week, to combat the nation’s spike in fentanyl-related overdose deaths.
Scott, the Republican lawmaker from South Carolina who’s expected to declare his candidacy for president later this month, is proposing a trio of bills that would take aim at the migrant crisis at the nation’s southern border with Mexico.
“If you don’t control your back door, you don’t control your country,” the senator emphasized during a town hall at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Monday evening. “With our wide-open border, we’ve seen… six million illegal crossings in just two years,” Scott said.
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Minutes later, in an exclusive national digital interview with Fox News, Scott outlined the goals of his plan.
“The first one is fending off fentanyl, which basically says let’s freeze the assets of Mexican cartels. They’ve led to 70,000 plus Americans losing their lives by bringing the drugs across our southern border. The second thing I say is if there’s an impediment to them bringing it across, we are in much better shape. My other bill provides for $10 billion to build the wall and another $5 billion for us to have the surveillance technology that catches fentanyl before it crosses the border.”
Scott, in conjunction with other Senate Republicans, has already introduced those pieces of legislation. He says the third leg is coming next.
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“Combine those two together with another one coming soon – May 11 – the end of Title 42. I have a bill that allows us to reinstate Title 42 because the health care crisis that continues is not COVID. But it is fentanyl. So, if we attack fentanyl as a health care crisis, we can reinstate Title 42,” he outlined. “That coupled with the other two pieces of legislation, I think makes us a healthier, safer country.”
The senator said Republicans “bought in overnight and then the Democrats have slowly moved in as well.”
“We do have a lot of support. The good news is that we’re talking with the Democrats as well as getting on board for some of the legislation. I find that they’re very interested.” Scott added that a handful of Democrats are already supportive of the “fend off fentanyl” measure. “This is bipartisan legislation that I think could become law this year.”
Most fentanyl is smuggled into the U.S. through the southern border, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), as Mexico based cartels and other criminal groups have profited from the production of the deadly synthetic opioid. And Republicans criticize President Biden and his administration’s handling of the surge in illegal border crossings the past couple of years for the spike in the nation’s fentanyl-related overdose deaths.
Title 42 was an order issued by former President Donald Trump’s administration amid the coronavirus outbreak. The controversial rule was used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to rapidly expel asylum seekers that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.
While it is a public health order, not an immigration policy, Title 42 became one of the central border policies in place as the U.S. faces a continuing crisis of numbers at the border. The Biden administration’s move to end the order came after more than a year of pressure from fellow Democrats amid frustration with the inability to end a policy they view as illegal and cruel to those fleeing persecution.
Title 42 is set to end on Thursday – barring any last-minute developments – because the national COVID-19 public health emergency will expire on May 11, eliminating a key legal underpinning of the policy.
Since it was implemented in March 2020, as the worst pandemic in a century swept the globe, Title 42 has been used to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants either to Mexico or their home countries on the grounds that their entry into the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.
Government officials say they expect the level of border crossing to soar after Title 42 sunsets. While progressive Democrats have targeted the policy, Republicans have supported Title 42 as an effective border control policy that should be continued.
Scott spoke with Fox News during a two-day swing through New Hampshire, which holds the first primary and second overall contest in the Republican calendar. It was the senator’s second trip to the Granite State in a month, and looking ahead to his expected presidential campaign, Scott told the town hall audience, “I will be back so often that you’ll say, ‘He’s back again.'”
The senator held a similar town hall this past weekend in Iowa – his third trip this year to the state whose caucuses lead off the Republican presidential schedule.
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The stops by Scott, a rising star in the GOP and the only Black Republican in the Senate, come ahead of what’s being billed as a “major” 2024 announcement that the senator will make May 22 at Charleston Southern University. The North Charleston, South Carolina, school is Scott’s alma mater, and the announcement is expected to be the senator’s formal declaration of candidacy and launch of his White House campaign.
Scott, who kicked off a “Faith in America” listening tour in February, told Fox News, “I am excited about this next step. I’m certainly ready for this next step. And I am excited to have an opportunity to talk about my positive, conservative message that is anchored in American values that have always led the way.”
He’ll join a GOP White House field that includes former President Donald Trump, who announced his third straight presidential run in November and remains the clear front-runner in the Republican nomination race.
Trump has continued to relitigate his 2020 election loss to President Biden as he repeats his unproven claims that his defeat was due to an election “stolen” through “massive voter fraud.” And the former president’s listing of his many legal grievances also became a campaign staple this year.
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Asked if Republican primary voters are receptive to his positive vision rather than Trump’s much more combative message, Scott answered, “I’ve seen this all across the country so far that people are hungry for an optimistic, positive message as long as you have a backbone.”
“Don’t conflate being positive with being uninterested and having a tough stand on those issues that matter,” he emphasized. “China – we’re going to be tough as nails. We’re going to be lethal to our adversaries, whoever they are, and loyal to our allies.”