When it appeared 2022 might be a competitive election, Sen. Maggie Hassan — a long-time supporter of amnesty for illegals and opponent of a border wall — reversed course on border security. She released a campaign video standing in front of the Trump border wall announcing her support for more “physical barriers” at the border. Her staff shot the video at an angle framing the senator with the barbed wire across the top of the wall looming behind her.
Hassan also embraced the Trump-era Title 42 border policy she once opposed, pushing the Biden administration to keep it in place during her time on the campaign trail. New Hampshire progressives denounced her newfound “border hawk” politics, protesting outside her office.
Today, with an easy victory over a weak GOP opponent in her rear-view mirror, Hassan has returned to her old ways: It’s time for Title 42 to go.
In a weekend interview with WMUR’s Adam Sexton, Hassan said she supports the Biden administration’s decision to end the Title 42 policy on May 11. She offered her support even as an estimated 40,000 undocumented migrants are amassing along the border, ready to surge across as soon as the Title 42 rules end.
“The public health emergency declaration is ending,” Hassan told WMUR’s Adam Sexton when asked if it’s “appropriate” for Title 42 to end now. However, she added, “I am very concerned that we still need more personnel at the border. We need additional technology.”
The Biden administration admits it expects some 13,000 undocumented migrants to cross the border each day beginning this Friday after the Title 42 policy ends. The anticipated surge is so big the Texas cities of Brownsville, El Paso, and Laredo have already declared states of emergency.
Hassan defended the Biden administration’s response.
“I think you are seeing the administration take steps with the deploying of troops down to the border to meet that surge,” Hassan said. However, according to the White House, none of the 1,500 troops deployed by the Biden administration will be used to enforce the border or stop anyone from crossing illegally. Instead, the National Guardsmen will help with administrative work.
And when Hassan said in the past that she supported increased “law enforcement spending” at the border, it has mostly been materials like food and shelter for migrant families, and social services like “health care and mental health care for individuals, and trauma-informed care for children.” During the 2022 campaign, she touted her “work” on behalf of hiring 600 Customs and Border Patrol agents, but only at points of entry. Not the long miles of unguarded borders where many illegal crossings occur.
Hassan — who doesn’t believe illegal immigrants should be deported unless they have committed some additional and serious crime — has never voted to increase the number of illegal immigrants removed from the U.S. Nor has she voted to add to the border wall or for any increases in “physical barriers.”
She has also declined to sign onto a bipartisan bill that would give the federal government two years of Title 42-style enforcement authority while a more permanent solution to the asylum crisis is found.
Instead, Hassan embraces Vice President Kamala Harris’ “root causes” approach to border security. In her interview with Sexton, she touted her recent trip to Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras “to better understand the dynamics that are creating such a surge of migration.” As she told NHPR, “We know that foreign aid is helping [Central American] governments begin to address things like gang violence which is one of the reasons you see people take this incredibly risky journey up to the border.
Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies said attempting to stop illegal immigration at its roots is destined to fail because “there’s a whole world of potential illegal border-jumpers beyond the Central American countries the Biden-Harris administration focused on.”
He pointed out that while El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras get most of the “root causes” attention from the U.S., “there were nearly 2.4 million arrests of illegal immigrants at the southwest border” last fiscal year, “but only a little more than half a million were from those three target countries.”
As a Senate Homeland Security Committee member, the CBP and border security are under Hassan’s direct oversight. Events at the border in the coming weeks may shine a brighter spotlight on her record.