Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is warning that the Biden administration does not have a sufficient plan in place for the looming end of the Title 42 public health order that has been used to quickly remove migrants at the border, warning the border will see a "crisis" if the order is ended without adequate preparation.

"I spent 15 years flying the Space Shuttle as a pilot of the Space Shuttle, commander of the Space Shuttle," Kelly told Fox News Digital in an interview Friday. "We spent a lot of time preparing and training and making sure we have the right things in place for stuff that's expected, and we spend an equal amount on stuff that's unexpected, the contingency plans."


"In this case, the administration hasn't even prepared, and they don't have a plan for what to expect. Forget about the unexpected part, I'm just asking for the first part of this. We know what the situation on the ground is going to be. Let’s come up with a detailed plan and put it in place — and I just haven’t seen that."

The Biden administration announced this month that it will end the order, which has been used since March 2020 to expel a majority of migrants at the border, on May 23. It sparked concerns from both Republicans and Democrats — including Kelly — that ending Title 42 will lead to an overwhelming surge at the border. The Biden administration has said it is preparing for up to 18,000 migrants a day.

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Sen. Mark Kelly talks with CBP personnel at the border in Douglas, Ariz. (Office of Sen. Mark Kelly)

Kelly spoke to Fox News Digital after a visit to the Arizona border, his fifth since becoming a senator. There, he visited the Douglas Port of Entry, which is being reconstructed with $400 million in funding he secured in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. He also spoke to officials about improving technology at the border in an effort "to try to interdict more of the fentanyl that's coming across the border heading north and the firearms and cash that head south."

He also met with Border Patrol, speaking to agents and receiving an intelligence briefing on how the cartels operate and benefit financially by moving migrants into the United States.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels praised Kelly for his efforts to stop the lifting of Title 42, telling local outlets he had not been successful in getting administration officials to visit his part of the border. 

"I applaud Sen. Kelly for his support of Title 42 during a time where our southern border is already under crisis," Dannels told the Sierra Vista Herald.


Kelly says the border city of Douglas could be an area particularly hard hit by the ending of the public health order.

"Here in Douglas the migrants are mostly folks from Mexico and Guatemala, and they are most often returned to Mexico under Title 42. So lifting Title 42 without a plan, without additional resources, without the money for busses or a plan for drivers and facilities to house folks, it’s going to be a crisis," Kelly said. "It’s not a very humanitarian thing to do."

Sen. Mark Kelly

Sen. Mark Kelly hears from a CBP officer in Douglas, Ariz.  (Office of Sen. Mark Kelly)

Kelly has worked in D.C. to secure additional resources. Most recently, his office highlighted the funding in a spending bill that includes $100 million for hiring Border Patrol, over $1.2 billion for border processing and management, and quarter of a billion for border security technology. But he warns that it’s not enough if the numbers come as expected when Title 42 lifts.

"I know what they need, they need more people. I got them more people. We worked hard to get them more individuals, but if we wind up in a situation where the migrants that are apprehended at the border go from 7,000 a day to 18,000 a day … I mean, I already know the answer to this question," he said. "They do not have the resources, they do not have the individuals, they do not have the money, the buses to move individuals. Currently, they don't even know where to go look for them, so there is no detailed plan."

Kelly says he has repeatedly sounded the alarm to the administration, including to the Department of Homeland Security and the White House, but the administration is still unprepared.

"I warned the administration about this months and months ago, and they still don't have an adequate plan. They say they are working on it. My guess is that we’ll get to May 23, there probably is not going to be an adequate plan in place and, if that's the case, I don't think we should lift Title 42."

Sen. Mark Kelly

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., speaks during a press conference following the weekly Democratic caucus policy luncheon Feb. 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Kelly, along with a number of other Democratic and Republican senators, has introduced legislation that would delay the lifting of Title 42 until DHS shows there is a comprehensive plan in place. That legislation includes as sponsors fellow Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who is also opposed to the imminent lifting of the order.

"It’s challenging. We've got a lot of folks from all over the world who want to come to the United States. We need an orderly process that's humane, and there's a lot of things we could use," Kelly said. "We could use more immigration judges at the border or asylum officers to adjudicate claims of asylum, but what we don't need is chaos."

Kelly says he believes the administration is listening to the concerns he is raising, but he is pessimistic about the chances of there being a real plan in place by the end of May.


"I think that when I give this feedback to the Department of Homeland Security and the White House, they're listening," he said. "They know I represent Arizona. I spend more time on the border here in Arizona than the head of Homeland Security or anyone who works in Homeland Security in Washington. I've spent more time and have more relevant information. I've seen it in person and spoken to more people, so they get that.

"We’ll have to see if that translates in the next five weeks into them coming up with a plan that’ll work. I have serious doubts."