Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus admitted Monday that lifting the Trump-era policy commonly known as Title 42 will “likely” cause an “increase in encounters” with illegal immigrants along the southern border — with agents already overwhelmed by current migration levels.
“As a result of the CDC’s termination of its Title 42 public health order, we will likely face an increase in encounters above the current high levels,” Magnus said in a statement outlining the agency’s plan for the anticipated influx.
“There are a significant number of individuals who were unable to access the asylum system for the past two years, and who may decide that now is the time to come,” he added.
“We are doing everything we can to prepare for this increase, ensure we continue to process people humanely, and impose consequences on those who break the law,” Magnus went on. “At the same time, we will continue to use all available resources to secure our borders.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that it would terminate Title 42 on May 23, ending the two-year-long policy that has allowed the summary expulsion of nearly 2 million migrants.
Since the onset of the COVID pandemic in the US in March 2020, border officials have used Title 42 to immediately expel migrants who attempt to enter the country — without allowing them a chance to claim asylum.
In winding up the policy, the CDC cited “current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19” for its reasoning behind the decision.
The order will remain in place for the next seven weeks while the Biden administration scrambles to “implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as scaling up a program to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants and prepare for resumption of regular migration”.
Recent reports have indicated that the lifting of Title 42 could bring a wave of up to 170,000 migrants attempting to enter the US this spring, with hundreds already marching north through Mexico and many camped out at ports of entry along the border.
Last week, with rumors spreading that the policy was to be scrapped, law enforcement officials along the border insisted that the Biden administration had no plan to deal with the aftermath.
“We have received no guidance at all,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told The Post Friday after the CDC announcement that Title 42 would come to an end. “Not only that, but they didn’t even bother telling us, so we had to learn about it from the news, just like everybody else.”
“We don’t have enough information on what those plans are … assuming they exist,” Border Patrol agent Jon Anfinsen agreed. “We don’t even know what to tell [agents] what to expect. We’re already in a position where things are as bad as they have ever been. To think they’re going to get worse, it’s hard to quantify that.”
On Monday, Magnus announced CBP planned on “shifting” some officers and Border Patrol agents and increasing the number of ICE personnel working along the border.
The CBP leader also said his agency would use volunteers from elsewhere in the Department of Homeland Security to process those apprehended by agents, as well as increase the number of Border Patrol Processing Coordinators and contractors.
Magnus also promised that CBP would work to “more efficiently” track migrant movements and “work closely with foreign governments to conduct joint enforcement operations.”
Additionally, he said the agency will use social media in an attempt to “educate and warn migrants” of traveling to the border with human smugglers.
In February, the most recent month for which official numbers are available, the number of illegal immigrants stopped along the southwestern border shot up to nearly 165,000 — an increase of 6.6% over January, and 63.2% over the previous year. That year, the number of apprehensions peaked in July at more than 213,000.