LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters says the new restrictions on those seeking asylum along the southern border are sending a strong message.

Title 42, which expired on Friday, faced significant criticism when it was first enacted in March 2020.

Now that it is expired, Peters says the penalties for migrants are high, compared to immigration policies prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, border security has been a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill as seizures of fentanyl become a worry.

“We have a lot of people on the southern border who are fleeing for a variety of reasons, but they have to know that the border is no open; we have secured borders,” Peters said.

The Biden administration’s changes to asylum policy are already facing a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Peters chairs the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and says the policy comes with heavy penalties as immigration officials see large numbers of migrants at U.S.-Mexico border.

“If they just show up at the border, they will not be allowed in and they will be banned from coming into the country for many years and could face criminal prosecution and certainly deportation. That is all going into effect right now to deal with the surge we are seeing at the border,” Peters said.

Earlier this month, Peters reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would bolster existing resources and support the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to curb drug trafficking at the border, especially fentanyl.

He says a key to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. requires breaking down the supply chain, both by preventing trafficking of finished fentanyl and the resources that are part of manufacturing the drug.

“We need to do all of the above. We have to stop the final product from coming across the border but understand wherever we see the precursors heading into our countries or countries along the border, we have to stop that as well,” Peters said.

The U.S. is also at risk of hitting the federal debt ceiling in a few weeks.

Peters says defaulting on the debt will grind everyday aspects of the federal government to a halt and slow down the work at our nation’s borders.