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Kelly and Sinema condemn Biden administration’s end of pandemic border restrictions

Honduran migrants wait in line to plead their asylum cases earlier this month at a border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico.
AP, file
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Honduran migrants wait in line to plead their asylum cases at a border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico.

Both of Arizona’s U.S. Senators are criticizing the Biden administration’s decision Friday to end sweeping pandemic restrictions at US-Mexico border. The Trump-era policy was put in place two years ago to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Democrats Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema call the decision premature and say migrants, public health and Arizona communities would be harmed by ending what’s known as Title 42 without first having a proper plan in place.

“This is the wrong decision. It’s unacceptable to end Title 42 without a plan and coordination in place to ensure a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border," said Kelly in a press release.

Many observers expect a major influx of migrants when the limits on seeking asylum end next month. The senators call the situation at the southern border a crisis and predict greatly increased strain on the Department of Homeland Security.

The policy has become harder to defend, however, as COVID infections nationwide have declined. Since it was first enacted in March 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, critics have seen Title 42 as an excuse to limit asylum claims.

Immigration advocates and many Democrats say the policy endangers asylum seekers by forcing them back to Mexican border towns where they face violence.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.