In hopes of seeking asylum in the U.S., hundreds of migrants settled on the north bank of the Rio Grande River, producing one of the largest mass crossings the El Paso-Juarez border has seen in decades, reports the El Paso Times. With the Title 42 restriction scheduled to end on Dec. 21, officials have seen an influx of thousands of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigration experts say the decision to end the policy could have triggered the surge in asylum-seeking migrants who were released by federal immigration authorities in border state communities. "We've been experiencing an influx since September," said Border Patrol El Paso Sector spokeswoman Valeria Morales. "In November, our demographics changed to Nicaraguans. You see the migrants staging and waiting to be transferred." Title 42 was introduced under President Trump's administration in March 2020, allowing border officials quickly to expel migrants and close official ports of entry for asylum seekers.
Under the Biden administration, the policy has been used to mitigate flows of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. In November, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. government's use of Title 42 to prevent migrants from lawfully claiming asylum at the border is "arbitrary and capricious" and violates the law. Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., gave the Biden administration until Dec. 21 to stop the expulsions. Border Patrol's El Paso Sector, which includes the city footprint and all of New Mexico, is reporting an average of 2,100 encounters each day in December. That includes apprehensions of those who attempt to evade border agents and asylum seekers who are turning themselves in. It's not the first time this year the El Paso border has seen a surge in immigration. Daily migrant encounters in the El Paso sector topped more than 2,000 a day in October, but asylum seekers were being quickly ushered in and processed under canopies at a mobile unit and were less visible. The unit was dismantled last week in anticipation of coming wintry weather, Morales said. "It was meant to be temporary," she said. "With the temperatures going down, the (sector) chief decided it would be best to demobilize, for the migrants and agents as well."