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As Title 42 Nears End, Border Patrol Braces for Influx of Migrants

Officials are bracing for an influx of thousands of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border when the Trump administration-era Title 42 restrictions end this month. Immigration experts say the move could trigger a surge of asylum-seeking migrants released by federal immigration authorities in border states, reports the Arizona Republic. Title 42 was invoked under President Trump's administration in March 2020 and has continued to be enforced by the Biden administration as a tool to mitigate flows of migrants. On Nov. 15, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C. gave the Biden administration five weeks to prepare for the end of the restriction. The administration appealed Sullivan's order on Wednesday, focusing on the authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue orders regulating migration. The government seemed to be planning to meet the Dec. 21 deadline to end the use of Title 42. Roughly 44,700 people are on waitlists in 10 Mexican border cities for the opportunity to ask for asylum. Experts say the number of asylum seekers will increase, especially from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Venezuela. Once the initial surge of numbers pass, the total is are projected to level out and stabilize. The number of migrants Border Patrol agents must process will “likely be double or greater” once Title 42 is lifted, placing further strain on the agency, according to a September U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report. The report said the Border Patrol is unprepared to deal with the increase.

Once Title 42 is lifted, the Biden administration plans to revert to normal processing of migrants under the Immigration and Nationality Act. “Unwinding (Title 42) is really just returning to normal processing under the law,” said Chelsea Sachau of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. “It's just the government doing what it was doing for years before the pandemic occurred.” Under the law, migrants are processed and either can be removed from the U.S., placed in immigration detention or released with a notice to appear in immigration court later. U.S. immigration courts already have a 1.9 million-case backlog. Title 42 is a rarely used section of the U.S. Code that relates to public health and welfare. When Title 42 was invoked, it was to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in immigration facilities. For nearly three years, the policy has been used to rapidly expel migrants and asylum seekers to Mexico or their home countries. Migrants have decried Title 42 for impeding their ability to seek asylum while they’re fleeing violence, threats and economic instability in their home countries. Since January 2021, Human Rights First has documented 0,318 reports of “kidnapping, murder, torture, rape, and other violent attacks” against migrants expelled to Mexico under Title 42.


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