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The Migrant Surge Has Begun As Title 42 Is Within Days Of Ending

Border agents in the Rio Grande Valley had a visit from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday as they prepare for the lift of the COVID-era policy known as Title 42, which has turned migrants back to Mexico more than 2.5 million times since it was imposed in March 2020, NBC News reports. Border agents are preparing for a massive surge when Title 42 ends on May 11, but in many sections of the border, the surge has already begun. Agents in the Rio Grande Valley said they’re already seeing a rise in migration because smuggling organizations brought migrants to northern Mexico ahead of Title 42’s expected lift and are now starting to move them into the U.S. to free up space. A Border Patrol official said the processing centers in the Rio Grande sector are technically at capacity, but can still comfortably fit migrants who enter before they’re either turned back under Title 42, detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or released to local shelters. The concern, the Border Patrol official said, is the time it will take to process migrants when Title 42 goes away. Rather than one agent processing and sending 40 migrants back to Mexico under Title 42 in five minutes, it will take one agent 30 minutes to an hour to process just one migrant and determine where he or she will go next. That slowdown could result in backups in Border Patrol stations and a drain on the manpower of border agents in the area.

As Mayorkas toured the Rio Grande Valley, Department of Homeland Security officials have been touting the sector’s success in processing migrants quickly. In El Paso, the busiest sector over the past year, shelter operators and local officials estimate that the more than 1,000 migrants whom they were unable to accommodate are now sleeping on the streets. Mayorkas and border officials have touted advances in technology for finding and processing migrants. Since fiscal year 2022, the Biden administration has added 81 new autonomous surveillance towers that use artificial intelligence technology to track movement and know the difference between a person and a deer crossing through the brush. As DHS has increased its surveillance technology, so too have human smugglers. As Border Patrol agents made their way along the Rio Grande under the Anzalduas International Bridge, which connects Mexico with McAllen, Tex., they spotted a drone flying high above them, tracking their movements. Border Patrol agents said it was likely operated by a human smuggler determining how to best bring across a group of migrants without being detected.


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