Some US cities along southern border say they havent seen

Some US cities along southern border say they haven’t seen influx of migrants after Title 42 expires – CNN

(CNN) — Amid urgent fears that the expiry of the US border restrictions policy, known as Title 42, would trigger a spike in migrant crossings, some southern border communities have reported fewer migrants arriving than expected since the policy was lifted.

“We continue to encounter high numbers of non-citizens at the border, but we have not seen a significant overnight surge nor an influx (of migrants) at midnight,” said Blas Nuñez-Neto, an assistant at the Department of Homeland Security, after the directive expired on Thursday evening, the Minister for Border and Immigration Policy said on Friday morning.

Officials have warned that the repeal of Title 42 – a controversial Trump-era policy since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that allowed authorities to quickly turn away migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border – could lead to a stampede of Migrants could lead and exacerbate the situation Humanitarian crisis on the southern border. The expiration of the policy is due to the declared end of the national health emergency related to Covid-19.

Even before Title 42 was repealed, frontier community leaders said they were overwhelmed by the flood of incoming migrants and were struggling to meet their needs as social services were being marginalized.

In anticipation of the policy’s expiration, federal and local agencies have been preparing for the expected influx, including at least two south Texas counties that have issued pre-emptive disaster declarations. The Departments of Homeland Security and Defense have also sent thousands of employees to the border to assist local authorities, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Wednesday.

Among the US cities that recorded fewer than expected migrants on Friday was McAllen, Texas, which is across the border from the Mexican city of Reynosa.

“These are not the numbers we originally expected and we hope they stay that way,” McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos said.

About 1,200 migrants are already being housed at a housing and processing facility set up by the city, the mayor said. Authorities hope to expand the site’s capacity to 5,000 people in the coming days, he said.

In El Paso, where hundreds of migrants slept on sidewalks after a recent spike in arrivals, Mayor Oscar Leeser said Friday the city did not see the expected surge in migrants after Title 42 expired.

As of Friday midday, the site at the city’s border gate was mostly empty save for a few arriving migrants. In the afternoon of the previous day, about 1,000 migrants were waiting to be cleared, including some who had sustained wounds and injuries from their treacherous crossing journeys.

Leeser said El Paso has had a “smooth transition” from Title 42 so far but is still preparing for the future.

“We know we still have to prepare for the unknown because we don’t know what’s going to happen next week and what’s going to happen day by day,” Lesser said.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the number of migrants in the border town of Ciudad Juárez totaled about 10,000 people, with about 5,500 being counted in Matamoros – the same number as at the start of the week. About 500 migrants gathered in Tijuana.

The flow of refugees has decreased in recent days, he said, describing the border situation as “calm and normal”.

In the absence of Title 42, US authorities will now revert to Title 8, a decades-old protocol for asylum seekers that could mean longer processing times and more serious consequences for those who cross illegally.

Daniel Becerrill/c

Texas National Guard soldiers place more barbed wire along the banks of the Rio Bravo in Matamoros, Mexico, ahead of the lifting of Title 42 May 11, 2023.

President Joe Biden has come under scrutiny from both sides over his administration’s handling of the expiry of Title 42, and Biden has been struggling to prove he can manage the crisis at the border and humanely manage a possible influx of asylum seekers .

The government faced a major stumbling block when the state of Florida sued to halt a key part of its plan to manage the expected border crossings.

The plan, temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Florida on Thursday, would allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to release some arrested migrants without a court date or, in some cases, with conditions.

Migrants would be released “on parole” on a case-by-case basis and would have to report to the Immigration and Customs Service. Some may also be placed in detention program alternatives.

The Department of Homeland Security said the strategy would help alleviate some of the stress at overcrowded border facilities. As of Wednesday, more than 28,000 migrants were in border police custody.

Mayorkas said Wednesday that this would only apply to a “fraction” of the people encountered by authorities.

District Judge T. Kent Wetherell, an appointee for former President Donald Trump, has blocked the ban for two weeks. The judge said the Biden administration simply failed to prepare for the end of Title 42, nor was it able to adequately justify why its policy was not announced until Wednesday, even though the end of the policy had been expected for months.

The White House responded to the lawsuit on Friday, saying Florida Republicans plan to “sabotage” the government’s border control efforts.

“That’s something we’ve seen time and time again from Republican officials over the past few months,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Friday’s news briefing. “Rather than trying to solve a problem or talking to the federal government about how to deal with a problem, they might not do it in their state or in their city — they’re actually sabotaging what we’re trying to do.” .”

Customs and Border Protection will comply with the judge’s order, the agency said early Friday, but called it a “damaging decision that is leading to unsafe overcrowding at CBP facilities and undermining our ability to efficiently process and deport migrants and that.” risk of creating dangerous conditions.” Border guards and migrants.”

Nuñez-Neto on Friday expressed “concern” about the impact of the Florida lawsuit on “our ability to process people quickly given the increased encounter rate we are facing.”

Nuñez-Neto also warned of the possibility of “unsafe overcrowding at CBP facilities” and the risk of “dangerous conditions for border guards as well as non-citizens in our custody.”