Border Patrol agents in Texas are bracing for an explosion in migrants crossing the US-Mexico border if the Biden administration ends a policy that allows authorities to turn away asylum-seekers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has until Wednesday to decide if it will renew Title 42, a COVID-19-era policy that has allowed the US to keep hundreds of thousands of immigrants in Mexico or deport them to their home countries before they have a chance to ask for asylum.
“Illegal immigration is going to explode even more if Title 42 goes away,” Brandon Judd, who is the president of the National Border Council, a union representing US Border Patrol agents, told The Post.
To prepare for the potential human tidal wave of asylum seekers, Border Patrol agents are being dispatched to hotspots for crossing into the country like McAllen and Del Rio, Judd said.
In the month of March, 52% of immigrants at the border were directly expelled under Title 42, Judd said.
If Title 42 is not renewed, Judd said that agents could be tied up doing paperwork instead of patrolling the border to stop criminal activity.
“When Title 42 goes away, we’re going to be in serious trouble,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security, however, is sending administrative volunteers to the border to handle increased paperwork that will result from processing more immigration cases.
In El Paso, Annunciation House — one of the largest and busiest immigrant shelters along the Texas border — is preparing to be able to shift into crisis mode within 24 hours if there’s a surge at the border, the El Paso Times reported.
“When Title 42 goes away, this will be a sea of cots,” Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House told the newspaper.
An estimated 1.7 million immigrants have been expelled under Title 42, CBS News reported. While the health policy started under former President Donald Trump, 70% of Title 42 deportations have taken place during President Biden’s time in office.
Critics of Title 42, like the ACLU, argue that the policy is not about health, but about stripping asylum seekers of their legal right to ask for asylum.
The group claims the policy has been “criticized by leading epidemiologists and public health experts from the start.”
“Earlier this year, a group of experts called on the Biden administration to ‘end its use of the scientifically-baseless Title 42 policy’ which, they said, does not help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the ACLU said.
The ACLU is among several civil rights groups suing the U.S. government to end Title 42.