The Biden administration is requesting billions in additional funding for the border as it predicts an enormous spike in migrant encounters when the Title 42 authority to quickly expel migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic ends later this month.
According to a congressional aide, the Biden administration is seeking $2 billion for additional funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) , as well as $2 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
That request, Fox is told, is based off the Department of Homeland Security’s estimation of daily encounters once Title 42 is ended on Dec. 21. A court ordered the administration to stop using the authority — which has been used since March 2020 to quickly return migrants to Mexico — after finding it to be unlawful.
That “flow estimation” predicts between 9,000 and 15,000 migrant crossings a day once Title 42 ends. For context, the average for fiscal year 2022 — in which there were a record 2.3 million migrant crossings — was approximately 6,500 crossings a day.
The $4 billion funding request would fund “border management” and DHS would use it on soft-sided facilities, migrant care, transportation, processing, and the Emergency Food and Shelter program. That is part of a six-point plan the administration has released that includes surging resources to the border, anti-smuggling operations and an increased use of alternative expulsion authorities such as expedited removal.
The request comes as authorities at the border have already been overwhelmed with the high numbers they have been encountering in recent weeks. Fox News reported on Tuesday that there have been more than 500,000 encounters already this fiscal year, which began in October. There have been over 505,000 encounters, averaging at just under 7,000 a day. Of those, 162,547 have been expelled under Title 42.
That number is on track to outpace prior years. There were 517,000 encounters by the end of December in FY 2022, and FY 21 where there were just over 216,000 in the same period. In FY 2020, there were only 458,058 encounters for the entire fiscal year.
Fox News captured footage this week of migrants who have been released in El Paso after a huge migrant caravan hit the border on Monday — dozens of migrants could be seen camping out on a street corner.
Agents in the El Paso Sector have made 2,416 encounters in the last 24 hours. One Border Patrol agent told Fox that the numbers “continue to overwhelm exhausted Border Patrol agents, who continue to do their best in spite of the evident lack of support and leadership.”
CBP acknowledged that it has seen a spike in encounters along the border in recent days.
“Customs and Border Protection’s El Paso Sector on the Texas border with Mexico has seen an increase in encounters,” CBP said in a statement to Fox News on Monday afternoon. “In order to process individuals as safely and expeditiously as possible, Border Patrol agents from Big Bend and CBP Officers from El Paso Field Office are assisting with processing.”
Meanwhile, in Brownsville, Texas, Fox News witnessed repeated mass releases of several hundred migrants in a parking garage. Migrants were dropped off by the hundreds, at which point they walked across to a local non-governmental organization where they were given travel paperwork. From there they are free to take a flight or bus across the country.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.