UNITED STATES: A record number of migrants were recently detained in one day at the US-Mexico border, raising concerns about what will happen when a contentious immigration policy expires in a few hours.
The regulation known as Title 42, which was initially put into effect in 2020, makes it simpler for the US to send immigrants back to Mexico by using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse.
However, a rush to cross the border has been sparked by its looming expiration at 23:59 ET on Thursday (03:59 GMT on Friday), and cities on both sides are getting ready for an increase in attempted crossings after it expires.
Despite the best efforts of the authorities, President Joe Biden acknowledged earlier this week that the border will remain “chaotic for a while.”
El Paso, a city in Texas, is already observing an increase in arrivals before the rule change, indicating the potential impact.
Many of the migrants are perplexed by the upcoming change and are sleeping rough in impromptu campgrounds on the city’s streets. Earlier this week, a large group of people set up camp near a church in the middle of the city.
Mayor Oscar Leeser stated, “We’ve never seen this before,” on Wednesday during a border security exhibition held only a few blocks from the campground. “Something has to change. As a community, we can’t do this forever.”
He issued a warning that approximately 10,000 migrants were “lined up at the border, waiting to come in,” just across from El Paso.
The Texas Department of Public Safety’s regional director, Joe Sanchez, compared the incident to a stampede at a football stadium, only much worse.
“Imagine 60,000 people in one location, and all of a sudden an alert comes on and says there’s a bomb in the building. What happens after that? Chaos… It’s very hard to control and very hard to manage,” he said, adding, “That’s exactly what it’s like on the border.”
The future is uncertain for those immigrants as well as those who are currently in the US.
The Biden administration unveiled harsh new guidelines for asylum seekers on Wednesday in an effort to stem the influx. These guidelines included a five-year ban on asylum applications for anyone who crossed the border illegally.
Officials from the US have also announced additional measures to encourage immigrants to seek out legal entry points, as well as strong sanctions and prompt deportation for those who do not.
In addition, thousands of National Guard soldiers and active-duty military members have been dispatched to assist Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and about 24,000 law enforcement officials have been stationed along the 3,218-kilometre (2,000-mile) border.
The CBP is facing difficulties at this time because of the increased restrictions. Officers in the El Paso sector alone are detaining hundreds of people every day as a result of a significant increase in attempted crossings over the previous six months.
Authorities in the city are now dealing with both unprocessed illegal immigrants and those who have been freed from detention to await a court appearance with an immigration judge.
Some immigrants in El Paso told the media that it would be years before they could get to court. And just days before Title 42 expires, local authorities have started an enforcement effort, directing migrants to go to the closest processing facility.
Others were imprisoned in preparation for potential deportation, while those whose requests for asylum were judged to be valid were granted dates to appear before an immigration court.
Local migrants reportedly said that some had fled from the region out of fear of deportation, while others had unwillingly shown up before CBP authorities in the hopes of being given permission to stay.
“It was crazy. They came to tell us early in the morning, when it was still dark,” stated 29-year-old Cuban Luis Angel, who was paroled into El Paso awaiting his court date. “Some of my friends are still detained.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asserted that smugglers who had been hard at work spreading false information that the border would be open after May 11 were to blame for a sizable portion of the problem.
Among the measures being taken are the construction of regional processing centres to assist migrants in applying to come to the US, as well as greater access to CBP One, an app that migrants may use to arrange appointments for asylum.
In order to battle rumours about border policies, CBP also intends to step up efforts to combat false information.
Nevertheless, a lot of immigrants in El Paso claimed that they found the regulations to be perplexing and that they had heard different reports about what would occur before or after the policy expires.