BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Thursday night, the pandemic-era rule known as Title 42 that allowed U.S. southern border officials to turn away migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 expired.

Border control is a heated topic of debate in Alabama. Republican Senator Katie Britt calls the end of Title 42 a “humanitarian and national security crisis” while others say Alabama is not going to see much of a change from this rule lifting.

“We must seal and secure our border, put back in policies that just make sense and that keep Americans safe and our communities strong,” says Britt.

“People really believing that our borders are open and our borders are not open and under the current immigration laws, this is not an invitation for people to come to the U.S. border and seek asylum,” says Zaira Solano, founder of Solano Immigration Law Firm.

A group of Alabama leaders and lawmakers recently got back from a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border. State Attorney General Steve Marshall was among those who went. Marshall says thousands of people are lined up to cross the border when Title 42 is lifted and there isn’t enough manpower to fully process everyone.

“The fact that we’re going to have more individuals coming across, a more porous border, clearly is going to exacerbate that problem,” says Marshall.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) says the debate surrounding the border is so quickly polarized because the conversations aren’t solutions focused.

“We don’t have a functional asylum system and that’s really what is at issue here is a process where we can bring people in and fairly adjudicate their case, do it also with fairness, efficiency and finality,” says Angela Kelley, senior policy advisor for AILA.

Solano Immigration Law Firm says Alabama shouldn’t see a large influx of immigrants from the lifting of Title 42 but could see more people coming from Florida after the passing of their anti-immigration law.

“Title 42 made it hard because they didn’t have the opportunity to apply, but applying for asylum is a very difficult process in the United States,” says Solano. “It is also very difficult to get approved and it’s something that takes years.”

In Washington, House Republicans passed the Secure the Border Act of 2023. The measure would resume construction of the border wall, and tighten the ability to apply for asylum.