A group of migrants from China surrendered to a Border Patrol agent in remote Southern California, joining others from Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere in a desert campsite with shelters made from tree branches. Their arrival Wednesday was another sign that agents have become overwhelmed by asylum-seekers on parts of the U.S. border with Mexico. In tiny Eagle Pass, Tex., nearly 6,000 migrants crossed from Mexico into the U.S. in two days, prompting authorities to close one of the town’s two official border crossings so those agents could instead help with the influx. Border crossings have closed recently for similar reasons in San Diego and El Paso, Tex., the Associated Press reports. Democratic mayors and governors are seeking more relief for hosting asylum-seekers and Republicans are seizing on the issue ahead of 2024 elections. The Homeland Security Department said Wednesday it would grant Temporary Protected Status to an estimated 472,000 Venezuelans who were in the U.S. on July 31, easing paths to work authorization, in addition to 242,700 Venezuelans who already had qualified for temporary status.
The administration is sending 800 active-duty military troops to the border, adding to 2,500 National Guard members there. It’s expanding border holding facilities by 3,250 people to nearly 23,000, and extending home surveillance nationwide for families awaiting initial asylum screenings. The administration renewed pressure on Congress and is now asking for $4 billion in emergency funding. The Homeland Security Department said it was “using the limited tools it has available to secure the border and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” In Eagle Pass, about 2,700 migrants crossed Tuesday and 3,000 Wednesday, said Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber. Mayor Rolando Salinas declared the city a disaster area. U.S. authorities closed a bridge and international railway in Eagle Pass to redirect staff. Officials had no estimate of when rail traffic would resume in Eagle Pass or when U.S.-bound commercial truck traffic would reopen at a bridge in El Paso. Traffic slowed at other border crossings. “All along the border, we’re experiencing large numbers of migrants, so you will see slowdowns and disruptions” at border crossings, said Dennis McKenzie, of Customs and Border Protection. “It’s all hands on deck.”