During a major White House speech Thursday announcing expanded border measures, President Biden fumbled while discussing the replacement of Title 42, a public health law that has been used to determine migrants at the border.
The speech came days before the president’s first-ever visit to the southern border next week as his administration struggles to deal with a historic surge in migrants. Asked why he’s visiting now when Republicans have been calling on him to visit since the start of his presidency, Biden shot back that Republicans “haven’t been serious about this at all.”
The president then predicted that Title 42 would be gone by the end of the year.
“Title 42 is going to go away before the end of the year, in terms of the Supreme Court. My prediction. And then we’re going to have to use Title 9,” Biden said before quickly correcting himself to “Title 8.
“Eight, right? Am I right? Yeah, Title Eight. Eight-nine,” Biden said, appearing flustered.
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At another point in the speech, Biden mispronounced US Customs and Border Protection as “Customs and Border Patrol” while discussing fentanyl seizures.
Since March 2020, Title 42 has been used to determine asylum-seeking migrants some 2.5 million times at the US-Mexico border. The law was enforced during the Trump administration as an emergency health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Biden moved to end the Title 42 restrictions, and Republicans sued to keep them. The US Supreme Court has kept the rules in place for now. White House officials say they still believe the restrictions should end, but they maintain they can continue to turn away migrants under immigration law.
Should Title 42 end the Biden administration would revert to Title 8, which mandates that any illegal immigration present in the United States “without being admitted or paroled, or who arrives in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the Attorney General, it is inadmissible.”
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Biden said Thursday the US would immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who crossed the border from Mexico illegally. The new rules expand on an existing effort to stop Venezuelans attempting to enter the US, which began in October and led to a dramatic drop in Venezuelans coming to the southern border.
“Do not, do not just show up at the border,” Biden said as he announced the changes, advising: “Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”
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Biden is scheduled to visit El Paso, Texas, on Sunday for his first trip to the southern border as president. From there, he will travel on to Mexico City to meet with North American leaders on Monday and Tuesday. El Paso is about 632 miles from where the border chaos is at its worst, in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.