US Border Patrol Braces for ‘Chaos of Epic Proportions’ as White House Mulls Ending Title 42
11:46 GMT 01.04.2022 (Updated: 11:54 GMT 01.04.2022)
AP reported Wednesday that the Biden administration plans to end Title 42, a Trump-era measure allowing customs officers to quickly expel illegal migrants under the pretext of Covid-related health restrictions. The report sparked an outcry among officials from states bordering Mexico amid fears the crisis on the southern border could get worse.
US Border Patrol agents and law enforcement tasked with guarding the US-Mexico border are bracing for the fallout of the possible lifting of Title 42 by the feds, complaining that the White House appears to have “no plan” for what comes after that.
“They’ve got no plan,” Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez told the New York Post. “They just can’t do away with it because they have no plan,” he insisted.
“What are we going to do next? Last year, we were calling it a crisis. This year, it will be a disaster. This is the calm before the storm,” Martinez said.
US border officials have reported on the arrest of nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants in 2021, and recently released Department of Homeland Security figures say agents are encountering over 7,100 migrants on average on a daily basis. Title 42 has allowed for over half of these individuals to be expelled back into Mexico or to other countries in a matter of hours, without the bureaucratic red tape which normally accompanies such encounters.
If Title 42 is ended, as the Biden administration has hinted may take place, agents expect big trouble.
“We feel abandoned, we feel frustrated, we’re devastated,” National Border Patrol Council labour union chief Brandon Judd told Fox News.
“We know this is going to cause chaos of epic proportions, especially when there is still a pandemic going on. We can’t even fly on airplanes without masks, but we’re going to end Title 42 which is going to cause the single largest flux of illegal immigration in our history? Again, we’re beside ourselves,” Judd said.
Border Patrol agent Jon Anfinsen complained about being kept in the dark about the feds’ plans, “assuming they exist.”
“We’re already in a position where things are as bad as they have ever been. To think they’re going to get worse, it’s hard to quantify that,” Anfinsen said.
Uvalde, Texas Mayor Don McLaughlin said his discussions with federal authorities and lawmakers on the matter have proven fruitless. “I told them on the phone yesterday, ‘you’re the 800-pound gorilla. If you want to bring these people in, if you want to send them somewhere, then you need to have buses lined up down here to take them somewhere’. And they said, ‘well, we can’t do that’,” he said.
McLaughlin, whose town sits about 95 km from the border, threatened to block a major highway running through his community to bring attention to the crisis as an act of desperation. “Will I probably get arrested? Probably, but I’m going to bring national attention to it if that’s what I have to do,” he said.
The mayor also said he’d “love” to put the migrants “on a bus to Washington, DC and let them see what we’re getting first hand,” and expressed concerns about the fate of the migrants that have already come into the country, saying they’re not even allowed to seek employment. “So who’s going to take care of these people? How are they going to survive?” he asked.
AP reported Wednesday that the Biden administration was planning to scrap Title 42 by 23 May. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield confirmed that Washington was working on that “contingency,” and insisted that ending the measure was a matter for the Centers for Disease Control.
18 March 2022, 03:01 GMT
“We are planning for multiple contingencies, and we have every expectation that when the CDC ultimately decides it’s appropriate to lift Title 42, there will be an influx of people to the border,” Bedingfield said.
At least one new migrant caravan has already been formed in southern Mexico near the border with Guatemala following the news of the possible end to Title 42, with “hundreds” of refugees from Central American countries who have been stranded in a camp planning to start their journey north Friday. Previous caravans of this kind have often snowballed into larger crowds on the way to their destination.
Last month, Axios reported that US intelligence was privately bracing for an influx of over 170,000 migrants through Mexico if Title 42 was scrapped.
Fears that the Biden administration may end one of the last Trump-era immigration policies still in place has sparked an outcry from Republicans in Washington, as well as lawmakers, governors, mayors and other officials in states bordering Mexico. Some Democrats in the border states have also expressed concerns over the possible consequences of scrapping the directive.
26 February 2022, 05:38 GMT
Title 42 was implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020, with federal authorities using it to justify the expulsion of over 80 percent of illegal migrants caught attempting to enter the country illegally. Under the Biden administration this figure dropped to 55 percent. Biden scrapped a number of other hardline Trump immigration directives, including the Republican’s signature border ‘wall’, and promised to consider amnesty for the estimated 11+ million undocumented immigrants already residing in the US. The president’s policies sparked a dramatic surge in border crossings. Trump has lashed out at his successor, accusing the Democrat of “destroying our country.”