The CDC is Right to End Title 42

The pandemic seems to be fading away, and with it, most of the COVID restrictions are being lifted. However, some are being kept around for political reasons.

Title 42 — a Trump-era public health order that was enacted to allow border patrol to expel asylum seekers from the US to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has since become the main tool for controlling migration at the southern border by both the Trump and the Biden administrations — is set to expire on May 23rd. More than 20 states, plus Republicans and even some Democrats in Congress now want to extend Title 42. A federal judge in Louisiana just declared he will file a lawsuit in Louisiana against the Biden administration’s rescission of the policy.

The main arguments for keeping Title 42 in place are that allowing it to end would increase migration to the US and pose national security risks. These arguments don’t hold water.

There is nothing wrong with increasing immigration. In fact, encouraging immigration right now would be good for the US economy. In addition, careful analysis shows that immigration poses little risk to national security — in fact, it might actually end up improving national security.

Increasing immigration

Boosting immigration would be a boon to the US economy. Today, job openings are hovering around a record level, with more than 11 million jobs available. This labor shortfall, which constrains US output, is one of the reasons for the substantial rise in inflation. Our economy desperately needs workers.

Imagine that the 1.5 million people deported under Title 42 since 2021 to date were allowed to stay in the U.S., where, given access to better machines and technology, they would have been more productive. Higher productivity means more goods supplying the market. And higher supply means lower prices. It’s not just immigrants who win — it’s the whole economy.

Essentially, inflation occurs when you have too much money chasing too few goods. While it is true that the money supply increased massively during the pandemic, production was also dramatically constrained by the supply shock brought by worldwide COVID restrictions. The Federal Reserve should do its part and reduce the money supply, but we can also attack the problem from an additional angle by increasing US output. Increasing immigration would help.

National security

Statistics show that the national security risks argument is groundless. According to Alex Nowrasteh from Cato Institute, on average, immigrants are less criminally inclined than natives. Illegal immigrants are 41% less likely to be incarcerated compared to native-born Americans. Moreover, illegal immigrants are mostly incarcerated for violating immigration law, a minor offense, and not for more serious crimes that might actually pose a real danger to US people.

The idea that immigrants disrupt social order and increase crime in America is simply false. To the contrary, the National Academy of Sciences determined in 2016 that “the presence of large numbers of immigrants seems to lower crime rates.”

True, foreign-born are responsible for most terrorism, which is the most emotional threat concerning national security. However, statistics show again that the fear is vastly exaggerated. Murders represent less than 1% of total deaths in the US, and terrorism is responsible for less than 1% of murders. The actual risk of dying in a terrorist attack for an American is 1 in 3.2 million. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 500K).

Far from sparking a national crisis, ending Title 42 could actually end up boosting production and reducing crime rates. The US should take advantage of this double benefit and terminate Title 42 once and for all.

Agustin Forzani is an MA in economics from George Mason University. Twitter: @agustinforzani