CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin called for an extension of COVID migration rules due to concerns over the new COVID variant.

Title 42 is a clause of the Public Health Law that has been used during the pandemic to prevent migrants who might be infected with COVID-19 from coming into the country. On Tuesday, Senator Manchin sent a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, asking her to extend the policies of Title 42 used during the pandemic, thereby preventing certain migrants from coming to the United States.

“The current Order under Title 42 suspending the right to introduce certain persons into the United States has been an important tool in combatting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. With encounters along our southern border surging and the highly-transmissible Omicron BA.2 subvariant emerging as the dominate strain in the United States, now is not the time to throw caution to the wind. I urge you to again renew this commonsense policy that has been in effect—under both Republican and Democratic Administrations—since March 2020,” said Manchin in his letter to Walensky.

Manchin also pointed out that after a low number of migrant encounters in 202 due to COVID, the number of migrant encounters at the U.S. borders has increased back to or above pre-pandemic levels with an all-time high reached in 2021. With the numbers seen in the first part of 2022, Manchin said he is concerned that the new COVID variant, Omicron BA.2, could be brought into the U.S.

Manchin mentioned “UK, Germany, Finland, Switzerland and other European nations” in his letter, saying that hose countries are seeing rapidly increasing BA.2 COVID cases. A number of other lawmakers in Texas also urged Biden to continue the Title 42 Order, but not because of COVID-19. Texas lawmakers instead claimed that many border cities “don’t have the temporary housing, health care and transportation services needed to deal with a rollback of such authority.”

Opponents of the Order say that there is no public health reason to keep the order in place.

Manchin also praised the CDC for its recent modification to the current Title 42 Order which made vulnerable people, such as Ukrainian refugees, exempt from the order.

Click here to read Manchin’s full letter to Director Walensky.