A child jumps rope in the courtyard of the Good Samaritan shelter in Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Credit: Christian Chavez / AP

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday aiming to slow efforts by President Joe Biden’s administration to end a coronavirus-era policy that allows border agents to expel migrants at the Mexican border.

The bill, introduced by the Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District, follows the Biden administration’s announcement last week that it would move to end Title 42, an order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows the U.S. to quickly expel migrants on public health grounds without their case going to an immigration court.

It comes against a political backdrop where Republicans have repeatedly hammered Biden and Democrats over the surge of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Golden, who has generally been hawkish on border security issues, is also a top target for national Republicans in Maine’s swing 2nd District with former Rep. Bruce Poliquin running to oust him.

Title 42 was first adopted under former President Donald Trump with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It has been used to expel more than 2 million migrants since then, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data.

The policy has received sharp pushback from immigrant rights advocates, who have argued it endangers migrants in northern Mexico. The Biden administration has exercised some discretion in the past year, no longer subjecting unaccompanied children to the policy. Border Patrol also made an exception for Ukrainian citizens who flew to Mexico and attempted to cross at the border.

But the attempts to roll back the policy further have received pushback in Washington, where Republicans and moderate Democrats have also expressed concern about Border Patrol’s ability to process more migrants. Immigration courts are also severely backlogged.

Golden said in a statement that while Title 42 “cannot remain in place permanently,” the Biden administration was not prepared to manage the large increase in border crossings that would likely follow its end.

“Ending these Title 42 authorities without a plan in place to manage the resulting influx of migrants is irresponsible and could create crisis conditions that would be dangerous for both migrants coming to America and Americans themselves,” he said.

The bill he is backing would prohibit the Biden administration from ending Title 42 until 60 days after the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency. It would also require the president to submit a plan for processing migrants within 30 days of ending the emergency. Sens. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, introduced a similar bill in the Senate this week.

The border issue could have salience in this November’s elections. Poliquin, Golden’s likely opponent, visited the border as part of a Republican delegation earlier this year to highlight the challenges that migrant crossings posed for local law enforcement and was critical of the Biden administration’s efforts to curb Trump-era border policies.

Poliquin strategist Brent Littlefield dismissed Golden’s involvement in the bill as an electoral stunt, noting the Democratic congressman had voted against Trump’s proposed border wall in 2019. He also highlighted that Poliquin’s trip to the border had been with Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, one of the sponsors of the bill.

Gonzales, in an interview with the Maine radio station WGAN about that trip in January, said it was “great to bring future members of Congress” to the border.