US fears end of Title 42 at US border means surge in migrants
Hundreds of specialist investigative agents and air marshals from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been called away from their regular responsibilities to assist with border management.
The Biden administration and the Texas state government are sending troops to the US-Mexico border in anticipation of a spike in illegal immigration when COVID-19 regulations known as Title 42 expire on Thursday.
Hundreds of specialist investigative agents and air marshals from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are being taken away from their day-to-day jobs to assist with border management, according to reports, prompting some employees to object, claiming they are being transferred to menial chores.
Last week, the Biden administration relayed that although the Trump-era restriction will be lifted, that does not insinuate that the border will be open.
Texas deployed a specially trained National Guard unit on Monday to target "hot spots", according to Governor Greg Abbott.
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The actions are part of President Joe Biden's larger efforts, along with those of state and local officials, to prepare for the expiration of the Title 42 order on Thursday. The order, which has been in effect since 2020, permits US officials to immediately deport migrants to Mexico without giving them the opportunity to request asylum in the US.
The policy move is projected to result in an increase in border arrivals due to backed-up demand and migrants' perceptions that they would be permitted into the nation.
A Reuters witness claimed that hundreds of migrants were waiting between two US border walls outside San Diego, California, on Monday, while US Customs and Border Protection appeared to struggle to process them. At one time, dozens of people rushed over the fence, asking for peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, and water.
Enrique Lucero, director of migrant affairs for the city of Tijuana in Mexico said "We don't know who is encouraging them. That is the million-dollar question. We think it might be the traffickers."
People who anticipated being processed for asylum applications have instead been delayed at the border for days, exposed to the nighttime cold, according to Adriana Jasso, a human rights worker for the American Friends Service Committee.
"We have situations of moms with babies," Jasso stated "There is uncertainty. There is anxiety."
Extra troops being deployed for border security
Abbott, a Republican who has criticized the Democratic president's approach to border security, said members of the Texas Tactical Border Force were being loaded onto Black Hawk helicopters for deployment and will have access to aircraft, boats, night vision equipment, and riot gear.
The National Guard has been suppressing migrant crossings in Brownsville in recent days, Abbott said at a news conference, the same city where a vehicle drove into a group of migrants on Sunday.
Separately, Biden has ordered the deployment of 1,500 extra troops to help protect the border.
In addition, 250 to 300 agents from the investigative branch of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be sent to assist border operations, according to two US officials who requested anonymity to discuss internal operations.
About 180 US air marshals will be pulled from their jobs securing air travel to help at the border, said Sonya LaBosco, executive director of the Air Marshal National Council, which opposes the deployment.
Both ICE investigators and air marshals have been tapped in recent years in border management efforts, leading to some resistance. DHS and ICE did not respond to requests for comment.
'America is under siege'
Senator Lindsey Graham expressed last week that "May 11 is a nightmare day for the American people, particularly people in New Mexico and Texas."
"In the next 90 days, you're going to (see) from 900,000 to 1.1 million" migrants crossing the border, Graham expected, adding, "America is under siege here."
In March, according to figures from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 192,000 "encounters" with migrants at the border were recorded.
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