Border politics worsen for Biden: The Note

Over two year old border restrictions, known as Title 42, end next month.

April 04, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

A deteriorating political environment means no shortage of small things that can become big things as well as big things that become all-encompassing and devastating.

Enter the Biden administration's announcement that strict pandemic border restrictions that have been in place for more than two years, known as Title 42, will end next month. The move has brought predictions of a fresh surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border -- and fears of worsening politics surrounding COVID-19, crime and immigration all in time for the midterms.

On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said the decision to revoke the order, which has been used to quickly expel most migrants apprehended at the border since the start of the pandemic, belongs to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's a public-health law," Klain said, adding that the CDC's judgment is that by late May, "the pandemic will be a place where we can no longer exclude people on a public-health rationale.

PHOTO: Asylum seekers stand in line before crossing to the United Stateson the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, April 2, 2022.
Asylum seekers stand in line before crossing to the United Stateson the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, April 2, 2022.
Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

But the mantra of "follow the science" doesn't necessarily square with other Biden administration guidance. As Republicans have been quick to point out, taking a flight or using public transportation still requires masking up, even while virtually all U.S. jurisdictions have dropped mask mandates.

As some Democrats have been quick to point out, a dramatic change in policy now could worsen a border crisis and strain agencies and communities. A letter sent to President Joe Biden by Arizona Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema on March 24 stated that the senators "have not yet seen evidence that DHS has developed and implemented a sufficient plan to maintain a humane and orderly process in the event of an end to Title 42."

Biden aides are loath to admit it, but the Trump-initiated policy at the border has provided political cover in addition to operational authority many Democrats see as necessary policy. Blaming different federal agencies for their independent judgments is not likely to assuage concerns -- political or otherwise.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Former Alaska governor and once-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is vying for a chance to serve in Congress.

Palin’s announcement comes after the March death of Rep. Don Young, who held Alaska’s at-large seat for 49 years.

"America is at a tipping point," Palin wrote in a Facebook announcement. "As I've watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step up and join the fight."

Palin is reemerging as a political candidate in a Republican Party that is much friendlier to her brand of populism than it was when she was named John McCain's running mate in 2008. Palin's campaign announcement is rife with the same sort of indignation that brought her to prominence 14 years ago and arguably gave way to former President Donald Trump's political rise.

PHOTO: Sarah Palin speaks during her appearance in Pasadena, Calif., June 26, 2016.
Sarah Palin speaks during her appearance in Pasadena, Calif., June 26, 2016.
Michael Schwartz/Getty Images, FILE

"At this critical time in our nation's history, we need leaders who will combat the left's socialist, big-government, America-last agenda," Palin said. "This country was built by heroes, and the radical left dishonors their legacies by opening our borders to illegal immigrants, mortgaging our children's future, and selling out our nation's interests to the highest bidder."

Palin is joining a very crowded field, as 51 candidates have filed for the chance to fill the vacancy. Her run coincides with major changes to Alaska's voting system. Palin will appear on the open primary ballot in June, and if she is among the top four candidates, she'll move to the August general election that will employ ranked-choice voting.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The first Democratic Senate primary debate of Pennsylvania's campaign season kicked off with three podiums and just two candidates on stage. Although the race's frontrunner, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, did not attend the Sunday afternoon event, fellow Senate contenders Rep. Connor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta launched several attacks at Fetterman in his absence.

The candidates invoked the lieutenant governor's name on matters of policy and rhetoric, and both called out a 2013 incident in which Fetterman, armed with a shotgun, confronted a Black man after hearing gunfire near his home. At the time, Fetterman was the mayor of Braddock in western Pennsylvania. Since then, he acknowledged his role in the interaction, and has said he wasn't aware of the race or gender of the person he moved to "intercept."

PHOTO: Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman speaks during a ceremony in Harrisburg, Pa., Jan. 15, 2019.
Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman speaks during a ceremony in Harrisburg, Pa., Jan. 15, 2019.
Mark Makela/Getty Images, FILE

In the days leading up to the debate, Lamb claimed Fetterman was skipping the event because he wanted to avoid addressing what happened. Kenyatta posted a graphic with the definition of the word "cowardice" on Twitter in response to a headline about Fetterman sitting out the debate.

On Friday, the Fetterman campaign announced he was committed to three other upcoming high-profile debates and spent Sunday meeting with voters in rural Pennsylvania. His approach to the 2022 political landscape appears to echo a broader trend of battleground candidates bucking the traditional campaign timeline in favor of setting their own priorities – and it remains to be seen which approach proves to be successful.

While the repeated invocations of the 2013 incident and questions over debate participation could be a hurdle for the frontrunner as he attempts to earn support from every corner of the state's Democratic base, it also marks a shift toward negative campaigning in the otherwise quiet Democratic primary.


The Secret Service detail protecting President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, has been paying more than $30,000 a month to rent out a swanky Malibu, California, mansion for nearly a year, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News. The agency selected the property in order to be located as close as possible to Biden's own rented mansion, where he is paying about $20,000 a month, according to property listings, sources said.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

70. That's the percentage of voters in Wyoming who are registered as Republicans, which is why Rep. Liz Cheney is likely in serious trouble this primary season. Much has been made of the fact that registered Democrats and other non-Republicans are eligible to vote in the state's Aug. 16 GOP primary, if they so choose, but as FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley writes, that "crossover vote" won't be enough for Cheney to eke out a victory if Republicans in the state back one of her challengers.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Monday morning with ABC's Terry Moran on the devastation in the formerly Russian-occupied Kyiv suburb of Bucha. Then, ABC's Zohreen Shah details the latest on the mass shooting in Sacramento. And, ABC's Averi Harper previews the vote for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.


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