Border communities are bracing for a flood of migrants crossing the border as Title 42 limitations expire.
Title 42 is a pandemic-era regulation that authorises border officials to return migrants from specific nations to their home countries without letting them to request refuge.
Thousands of migrants crossed the border in El Paso, with the US Border Patrol reporting an average of 2,400 interactions each day in the sector over the weekend. On Tuesday alone, more than 1,200 migrants were released into the neighbourhood, according to one city dashboard.
Residents told NewsNation that they were observing an increase in the number of migrants on their homes. Which made them feel frightened.
“These helicopters are simply flying above our area, and it almost seems like we’re at war,” El Paso resident Carmen Wilburn said. “I don’t want my granddaughter to stay here – it’s too dangerous.”
Josie Martinez, who lives just down the street, said she has been accosted by illegal men and women who are prowling her area.
“I was getting into my car when they requested if I could kindly give them a ride to a motel or something, and I responded, I’m sorry, I can’t,” Martinez explained.
It doesn’t help that shelters are overcrowded, and employees are clamouring for more room to open up.
“We have 175 males in a facility that can easily house 100-120,” said John Martin, deputy director of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless.
Many of these migrants are not attempting to elude Border Patrol, but have instead self-surrendered in order to claim asylum. A court order has already relaxed several Title 42 limits, and family units may be eligible to claim asylum even though solo individuals from the same background would be deported.
In light of the flood of crossings, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the border on Tuesday, but the visit was welcomed with mixed reactions.
Border Patrol agents and congressmen in border states have chastised Mayorkas and the Biden administration, claiming that they are losing control of the issue and are failing to take the border problem seriously.
But it’s not only Republicans who are clamouring for change; El Paso’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar has asked the federal government to provide additional resources to deal with the unprecedented pressure.
“Absolutely unsustainable and, frankly, unacceptable,” Escobar added.
Efforts in Congress to seek immigration reform include a bipartisan plan to enhance border security money. While also offering a road to citizenship for unauthorised immigrants currently in the country.
Meanwhile, authorities say the influx of crossings has overburdened Border Patrol and shelters in regions such as El Paso. Where winter weather has made it dangerous for those released by border security to continue their trek.