The Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security is quietly gearing up for a surge of “350,000 to 400,000” migrants in the month of October, according to a report from NBC News, and believes the border could see a huge influx of activity if the Title 42 COVID restriction on asylum lifts on Friday.
Title 42, instituted during the Trump administration, allows the federal government to “expel” immigrants, including asylum seekers, back to their home country without a hearing, over concerns that they could contribute to the spread of COVID-19. The Biden administration has kept Title 42 in force, but that could end as early as Friday, after a federal judge ruled that COVID-19 restrictions put in place in March 2020 were no longer necessary.
If Title 42 lifts, NBC News noted, DHS believes it could see hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers at the border, easily surpassing the record-breaking numbers of migrants seen over the summer.
“On a call this week with senior Department of Homeland Security officials, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked whether the department was prepared for a worst-case scenario in which 350,000 to 400,000 migrants cross the border in October, according to two DHS officials familiar with the conversation,” NBC News reported. “The two DHS officials stressed that the estimate is not based on internal intelligence or calculations, saying it is meant to prepare the agency for what could be an overwhelming number of migrants who cross if a court order that lifts the Covid restriction, known as Title 42, takes effect at the end of the week, as is possible.”
“U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled Sept. 16 that use of Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority implemented by the Trump administration to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in March 2020, did not give the Biden administration the authority to block asylum-seekers from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border,” the outlet explained.
The ruling follows a number of other rulings limiting the administration’s power to enact major, longstanding, national policies through administrative agencies, including the CDC, and the order takes effect October 1 — on Friday — though the Biden administration is still pursuing an appeal.
There has been a nearly continuous flow of migrants to the border since President Joe Biden took office, many seeking asylum or entry through routes that were cut off during the previous administration. Notably, Biden lifted President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which mandated that prospective refugees stay south of the border while their claims are being processed, allowing asylum seekers to enter the United States while they wait for a hearing.
Biden has also pursued major immigration changes, granting a temporary amnesty to around 150,000 Haitian asylum seekers — a move that appears to have encouraged thousands more Haitians to seek refuge in the United States. Approximately 10,000 Haitian asylum seekers have already been processed through Del Rio, Texas, but the president of Panama warned, earlier this week, that that was just the beginning; an estimated 60,000 Haitians are still making their way through Central American to the U.S. border.