Cities and towns near the Mexican border braced for chaos amid an expected surge of illegal immigrants Friday after the expiration of a Trump-era rule that allowed Border Patrol officers to summarily turn back migrants.
Migrants have been massing on the Mexico side of the border for weeks, waiting for the expiration of Title 42, which allowed them to be turned away based on COVID concerns. With the rule sunsetting at midnight, states on or near the border were expecting a human flood. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott ordered razor wire and hundreds of National Guard officers deployed along its 1,254-mile border with Mexico. Arizona, New Mexico, and California were also braced for a surge.
“We’re witnessing an absolute travesty unfolding on our southern border,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. “It’s nothing less than an invasion!”
JUST IN: Thousands of Haitians are forming in Mexico across from McAllen, TX waiting to storm the southern border.
Look at all those women and children!
– Title 42 is set to expire at midnight.
– Border cities are declaring state of emergencies.
– Abbott has deployed 10,000… pic.twitter.com/WU1cHjwXUs
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) May 11, 2023
Beleaguered Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a statement a minute before midnight insisting that illegal immigrants streaming in after the policy ended would be sent back.
“People who do not use available lawful pathways to enter the U.S. now face tougher consequences, including a minimum five-year ban on re-entry and potential criminal prosecution,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas, who has been unable to get a handle on illegal immigration since the Biden administration came into power, insisted that the end of Title 42 means the policy reverts to Title 8, which could still allow Border Patrol officers to turn back illegal immigrants with a threat of prison if they return. The administration is also trying to implement another Trump-era policy which would require anyone from a non-contiguous country to seek amnesty from another nation. That would mean migrants coming through Mexico from Central America and other nations would have to seek amnesty in Mexico.
But to the hordes of migrants poised to overwhelm U.S. officials after the lifting of Title 42, the technicalities seemed to be of little import.
“What’s better, to live in Venezuela going hungry, or try to cross to find a better life?” Richard Arcia, 23, told the Texas Tribune from a migrant camp in Ciudad Juárez, across the river from El Paso. “I don’t need the American government to give me anything. I have a support system [in New Jersey], and I’ll get to work as soon as I can.”
All week, swarms of illegal immigrants have been seen crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S., a trend expected to accelerate beginning Friday. Border agents apprehended more than 11,000 people who crossed the border illegally on Tuesday, about double the amount seen in a typical day, The New York Times reported. After Title 42 lifts, U.S. officials are expecting up to 13,000 illegal immigrants to cross into the U.S. daily.
The ones who have already made it have stretched social services throughout the country, but especially in border communities such as El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona. While some surrender to authorities to begin the process of seeking asylum and then are turned over to shelters, many others have camped on sidewalks while they arrange transportation into the interior of the U.S.
“There is no light at the end of the tunnel,” El Paso Mayor Oscar Lesser said Thursday, after declaring a state of emergency in his overrun city.
Migrants in Brownsville, Texas, open packets from DHS and use government-issued cell phones after processing. Some of their court dates reportedly won't be until 2027.
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) May 12, 2023
Another complication came late Thursday when a federal judge in Florida ruled that the U.S. government may no longer “parole” unprocessed illegal immigrants. That was being done as an alternative to sheltering them in detention facilities while overwhelmed Border Patrol officials filled out their paperwork. Customs and Border Protection is currently housing 28,000 illegal immigrants at its detention facilities, according to the head of the Border Patrol union.
Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls wrote President Joe Biden, calling on him to declare a national emergency to send more federal support to border communities like his. He said Border Patrol officials are turning loose hundreds of illegal immigrants, leaving them stranded in his city.
“We see the costs of illegal activity as many migrants fall victim to cartels, who traffic both drugs and humans across the border and into the U.S. in dangerous and often deadly manners,” Nicholls wrote. “These activities are business operations to cartels, and lead to the exploitation and rape and abuse and neglect.”