The Biden administration’s top border officials in Washington, D.C., have decided to authorize all Border Patrol sectors to begin “safe” mass releases of migrants to city streets if non-governmental organizations don’t have the capacity to hold them, multiple sources tell Fox News.
The consequence of this decision is that migrants will be mass released at bus stops, gas stations, supermarkets and in towns and cities across the border as Customs and Border Protection facilities are already over capacity in multiple sectors, according to CBP sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.
NGOs are quickly approaching their limits to house migrants and tens of thousands more migrants are expected to surge into the United States once the Title 42 public health order is lifted on May 11. The city of El Paso, Texas has already seen thousands of migrants camped out on the sidewalks.
The mass releases will only happen if NGOs run out of space, but officials believe that is likely. Officials have made 26,000 apprehensions and seen over 7,000 “gotaways” in just 72 hours, according to Border Patrol. That comes ahead of the end of the Title 42 public health order on Thursday, which is expected to be accompanied by an even bigger wave of migration on top of the already overwhelming numbers authorities are seeing.
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“The dam is about to break,” one Border Patrol source said.
Title 42 has been used since 2020 by both the Trump and Biden administration to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants quickly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, nearly half of all migrant encounters ended in a Title 42 expulsion. The order will end on May 11 along with the COVID-19 national emergency.
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The predominantly single adult migrants are expected to be encouraged by the belief they have a greater chance of being admitted into the U.S. once the order ends. The Biden administration has said that is misinformation and has warned that it is stiffening penalties for illegal entry while urging migrants to use expanded legal pathways instead. However, the prospect of mass releases into the U.S. interior of those who have illegally entered the U.S., after crossing multiple countries to do so, is likely to undercut that narrative.
“As we have said repeatedly, individuals who do not have a lawful basis to remain will be removed,” acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement late Monday. “Individuals should not listen to the lies of smugglers and instead use lawful pathways to protection.”
Those released into the U.S. are entered into U.S. immigration removal proceedings, but that can often take many years before a final order of removal is issued. Even then, deportations have dropped sharply under the Biden administration as Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) priorities have been narrowed. But officials say that, once Title 42 ends, they will use tools like expedited removal under traditional Title 8 authorities.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently made a public plea for migrants not to come to the U.S. illegally, warning of the dangers and what he said was a likelihood they would be removed.
“The border is not open,” Mayorkas said last week in Texas. “It has not been open, and it will not be open subsequent to May 11. And the smugglers who exploit vulnerable migrants are spreading misinformation. They are spreading false information, lies in a way to lure vulnerable people to the southern border and those individuals will only be returned.”
So far, there is no sign that the message is being heeded. Footage captured by Fox News’ Flight Team showed hundreds of migrants streaming across the border into Brownsville, Texas from Matamoros, Mexico last week. Agents are encountering migrants at a rate of 2,000 a day in Brownsville. CBP sources have said in the first four days of May they have been encountering more than 8,000 migrants a day border-wide.
CBP, ICE TO LAUNCH ENFORCEMENT OPERATION IN EL PASO AS MIGRANT NUMBERS SURGE AHEAD OF TITLE 42’S END
The Biden administration has been scrambling to implement measures to reduce the number of illegal crossings and establish a more orderly process. The administration also announced this week that it is sending 1,500 troops to the border, although officials have said they won’t be engaging with migrants but acting in a supporting role to Customs and Border Protection.
DHS is also preparing for NGOs to be dealing with a great deal of migrant traffic. Last week, the agency announced the distribution of an additional $332 million in funding to NGOs and local governments to aid migrants released from custody.
It has also proposed a new asylum rule intended to bar migrants from claiming asylum if they cross the border illegally and have also failed to claim asylum in a country through which they have already passed. Additionally, the U.S. is partnering with Latin American governments to expand legal pathways with migrant processing centers being established throughout South and Central America.
On Monday, in response to the El Paso surge, authorities announced a “targeted enforcement operation” in the city. The operation will see agents “process individuals for vetting and placement into Title 42 expulsion or Title 8 removal proceedings, as applicable,” CBP said in a release. Those who are deemed to pose a national security or public safety threat will be moved to ICE for detention.
The agency stressed, however, that neither agency will take action “in or near a location that would restrain people’s access to essential services or engagement in essential activities to the fullest extent possible.”
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.
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