Pablo De La Rosa is a freelance journalist, reporting statewide for Texas Public Radio and nationally for NPR.

GOP strategist on ‘performative’ Title 42 politics–‘This is not about the pandemic, and it never has been.’

Used with permission.

NPR interviews GOP strategist on Title 42

NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed GOP strategist Mike Madrid about the politics of Title 42 on Thursday’s Morning edition. Madrid said that Title 42 was never about the pandemic.

“Millions of people now are being affected by the performative nature of the politics,” Madrid told Inskeep.

The Supreme Court has kept Title 42 in place until June, when it will determine what will happen next. The federal government has been using Title 42 to expel some migrants who seek asylum since March of 2020.

From the NPR interview:

This is not about the pandemic. And it never has been. This is unfortunately, a small skirmish in this broader war on immigration reform that the country seems to be incapable of addressing.

It’s always been about the nominal changes or nominal adjustments in immigration policy. And unfortunately, millions of people now are being affected by the performative nature of the politics going on here.

‘Performative’ politics around Title 42

It’s interesting to hear a GOP strategist use terms like “performative” to describe immigration politics. The news cycle has presented plenty of stories that highlight this view over the term of Title 42 (and beyond).

One example is the now infamous 2021 incident in Del Rio, Texas. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)–a well-funded and technologically advanced security agency–chased migrants on horseback with media present.

At that time, this seemingly obvious contradiction took a back seat in the overall framing of the story.

On Title 42, we’re beyond a reasonable doubt that the crisis is more about politics than COVID-19.

We’ve heard Congressional testimony from former CDC officials that Title 42 never had any basis in public health. We’ve also heard Congressional testimony that the Trump administration pressured the CDC into moving forward with the recommendation of the policy. The director of the CDC at the time had initially refused to do so.

I’ve seen more folks talking about the framing of the conversation itself in the past few days. It makes me wonder if more people might be ready to talk in a more direct way.

Softer language on Title 42

Monica De La Cruz Hernandez won the Congressional seat in the 15th district in Texas along the border in November. Backed by Trump, she campaigned for an increase in border security.

In 2021, De La Cruz told border report she wanted policies that clarified that the border was closed.

However, De La Cruz told Fox News on Wednesday that “we need a long term solution that will keep migrants coming at a steady, slower pace.”

De La Cruz could also just be moving towards the center after a hard fight in TX-15 where her party and outside spending leaned heavily on anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“If this issue goes away, if this issue is resolved, Republicans lose essentially one of the great motivators they have for their base,” said Madrid during the NPR interview with Inskeep. “And that really has been one of the driving problems since the early 2000s on trying to get a deal done on immigration reform.”

Listen to the whole NPR audio interview here: Why Republicans are opposed to the lifting of Title 42 border restrictions


Pablo De La Rosa reports on immigration, border communities, preserving democracy, and Latin America for Texas Public Radio and NPR from the Texas-Mexico border, where he grew up. He’s the host of the daily Spanish newscast TPR Noticias Al Día and a regular contributor at The Border Chronicle.

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