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San Diego leaders welcome plan to end Title 42

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday it will terminate its Title 42 public health order May 23.

SAN DIEGO — The Biden administration's decision to terminate a pandemic-related policy which made it harder for migrants to seek asylum in the United States drew praise Friday from three Democratic San Diego-area elected officials while Republican Rep. Darrell Issa called it "reckless."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday it will terminate its Title 42 public health order May 23. The order required the expulsion of unauthorized single adults and family units arriving at the land borders in order to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said ending the "inhumane and restrictive policy is long overdue."

Gloria said his administration will continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security and regional community organizations "to ensure the process is orderly and that migrants have access to needed services and resources."

WATCH RELATED: Nearly 1000 Ukrainian refugees waiting at the Tijuana border

Issa, R-Bonsall, called it "`a reckless decision by an administration that from its first day opened our southern borders, demoralized our front line border patrol, and allowed in unprecedented human trafficking and fentanyl supply."

"Despite the president's empty promise at his State of the Union address to secure the border, Biden's border crisis will only continue," Issa said, predicting the decision would result in a flood of additional immigrants entering the country illegally and burdening already overwhelmed border patrol personnel.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said "we have put in place a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to manage any potential increase in the number of migrants encountered at our border.

"We are increasing our capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum requests and quickly remove those who do not qualify for protection," Mayorkas said.

"We will increase personnel and resources as needed and have already redeployed more than 600 law enforcement officers to the border. We are referring smugglers and certain border crossers for criminal prosecution. Over the next two months, we are putting in place additional, appropriate COVID-19 protocols, including ramping up our vaccination program."

Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, said the decision was "a welcome step."

"Over the last two years, migrants have been cruelly expelled from our country under the guise of Title 42," Vargas said. "Title 42 was never about public health and safety -- it was implemented to deny due process to people seeking refuge and protection.

"Representing border communities, I've seen the impact of Title 42 firsthand. Our nation was built by immigrants and every immigrant deserves to be treated fairly and humanely," Vargas said, adding that seeking asylum in the U.S. is legal.

San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas also praised the decision to end "a racist and xenophobic Trump-era policy that under the guise of public health, denied people the fundamental right to seek asylum."

"Now more than ever we should lead the way in building a just and humane immigration system that rises to meet the challenges of the current situation around the world," she said.

"San Diego County has proven in the past to be a welcoming place and we must continue to provide the support and services to anyone that is integrating and enriching our community."

WATCH RELATED: Ukrainian teenage refugee expected to fly to New York (March 2022).

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