SALTER: Title 42 and Immigration Policy: What the Issue Means for Mississippi and the South | Mississippi Politics and Current Affairs

Studio portrait of Sid Salter. (photo by Beth Wynn / © Mississippi State University)

From: Sid Salter

The latest skirmish in the nation’s highly partisan and often logically erratic fight over the broad subject of immigration is unfolding over the Biden administration’s plan to repeal an arcane public health law written 78 years ago. to stop the spread of communicable diseases like tuberculosis.

Title 42, part of the Public Health Services Act of 1944, was never intended to be the cornerstone of major immigration enforcement in the country. The law gave the federal government emergency power to stop the “introduction of communicable diseases” by migrants entering the United States – and to deport migrants regardless of their attempts to legally seek asylum as a public health necessity.

In 2020, the Trump administration dusted off Title 42 to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as cases soared. But it soon became clear that COVID-19 wasn’t the only concern driving the use of Title 42. The old federal code has now been used some 1.7 million times to keep migrants out of enter the United States.

The Trump and Biden administrations have used Title 42 as little more than border control measures. While Trump supporters expected nothing less from the guy who pledged to ‘build the wall’ on the southern border, Biden was quickly criticized by his supporters for not abandoning the application of Title 42 by customs and border protection.

The flap is already a problem in the upcoming midterm elections and has weakened an already fragile Biden push for a second term. Republican U.S. Senators from Mississippi, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, both warn of dire consequences and a wave of undocumented immigrants if Title 42 is lifted.

Hyde-Smith warned that “one million illegal immigrants would cross the border in the first six weeks”. A federal judge in Louisiana has entered the fray with a temporary restraining order to bar the government from granting migrants from the Northern Triangle nations of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala early or special Title 42 relief.

Beyond partisan politics, there are fundamental questions about whether the Biden administration and affected border states are ready to lift the restriction. But moving beyond partisan politics has been elusive over the past 40 years in this country.

Politically, illegal immigration and immigration issues are vastly overstated issues in Mississippi. Neither demographics nor fiscal reality support the current political alarm. Globally, countries are seeking to change immigration quotas, visa caps and regulations to address supply chain and labor shortage issues.

The American Immigration Council identifies 70,860 immigrants in Mississippi (2% of the total state population) as of 2020, with 38% naturalized U.S. citizens and 35% undocumented or otherwise illegal representing 1% of the state’s population. State. The countries of origin are Mexico (23%), Guatemala (10%), India (8%), the Philippines (4%) and Vietnam (4%).

The AIC documents that about three percent of the state’s workforce, immigrant workers generate about $1.5 billion in purchasing power and pay $550.6 million in federal taxes, state and local. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) counters that illegal immigration is by far a net tax drain on Mississippi taxpayers.

At a time when employers are encouraging job vacancies with unprecedented bonuses and supply chain disruptions that are hampering economic recovery, immigrants make up about 3% of the state’s workforce.

Is Mississippi flooded with undocumented immigrants “stealing our jobs?” In a word, no. Only 1.6% of Mississippi’s population is made up of undocumented immigrants – about 20,000 out of three million people.

Immigration has always been a complex problem that will require a complex and nuanced solution. Jingoism, nationalist rhetoric and overt bigotry will not solve the challenges. And the problem doesn’t go away, no matter who’s in control in the White House.

Comments are closed.