With Title 42’s expiration just days away, and a massive surge in migration expected to follow, the Biden administration is ramping up its tougher talk about the potential consequences of illegal entry to dissuade migrants from making the journey — but so far they are not listening.
“Don’t listen to smugglers’ lies about America’s immigration laws. The U.S. border is not open to illegal or irregular migration and U.S. immigration laws will be tougher as the Title 42 public health order ends,” the Department of Homeland Security tweeted on Tuesday.
That tweet comes after similar warnings from the head of Customs and Border Protection, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas himself in recent days.
“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 on Monday. “Individuals should not listen to the lies of smugglers and instead use lawful pathways to protection.”
“To the individuals themselves, who are thinking of migrating: Do not believe the smugglers,” Mayorkas said on Friday. “Because you are being deceived, and you are risking your lives and your life savings only to meet a consequence that you do not expect at our southern border.”
Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pointed to data that showed it has increased deportations compared to last year. In the first half of FY 2023, it said there were 225,483 removals or returns, up from 170,896 in the same period in FY 2022. However, only 48,381 were ICE removal flights. The enforcement agency also made videos showing a removal flight to Guatemala and testimonials about the debts often owed to smugglers and risks of the journey.
Those announcements coincide with a series of policy shifts by the administration designed to stiffen penalties at the border and discourage illegal entry. The administration has promised that penalties for illegal entry will be tougher when the public health order ends. That will include the increased use of expedited removal — which carries a five-year re-entry ban and possible criminal prosecution.
It’s also touted its looming asylum rule, which would make migrants ineligible to claim asylum if they have entered illegally and failed to claim asylum at a country through which they have previously traveled. While that would, in theory, make most migrants ineligible, Mayorkas has also stressed that the “presumption of ineligibility” would be rebuttable if certain factors are met.
However, despite those warnings, it appears to have had little effect on the number of migrants coming to the border — with authorities already seeing enormous numbers even before the order itself has ended.
Border Patrol announced on Monday that they have seen over 26,000 apprehensions in a 72-hour period, as well as over 7,000 gotaways.
Footage captured by Fox News’ Flight Team showed hundreds of migrants streaming across the border into Brownsville, Texas from Matamoros, Mexico last week. Agents have been 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.
Meanwhile, CBP and ICE announced a new targeted enforcement operation in El Paso after thousands of migrants have crossed illegally and have camped out in the streets.
The Wall Street Journal cited officials who said that between 12,000 and 35,000 people are currently waiting in Ciudad Juarez — a Mexican city just across the border from El Paso. They are said to be waiting for Thursday’s ending of Title 42 to make their move across the border.
Fox News reported earlier Tuesday that the Biden administration’s top border officials in Washington D.C., have authorized 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. The releases will only happen if NGOs run out of space – but officials believe that is likely to happen soon.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.