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It's time for a surge in illegal migrants as pandemic border rules expire. Wooooo!

Ooops, we should be saying "Come on up". Silly me, we are.

Biden to Send 1,500 Troops to Mexican Border as Fears of Migrant Surge Grow

Officials brace for surge of migrants when pandemic-era immigration rules end May 11

By Michelle Hackman and Alicia A. Caldwell, WSJ

Updated May 2, 2023 8:58 pm ET

WASHINGTON—President Biden is sending 1,500 active-duty troops to the southern border, while cities across the country are declaring states of emergency and asking for federal support as the country prepares for a surge of migration expected to accompany the lifting of Title 42 border restrictions next week.

A large number of migrants have already been illegally entering El Paso, Texas, in recent days. Hundreds unable to find spots in shelters gathered in the past few days around downtown churches in the border city looking for help, according to photos and videos of the scene.

Mario D’Agostino, a deputy city manager, said there are an estimated 35,000 migrants in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico—across the Rio Grande from El Paso—believed to be waiting to cross into the U.S.

Local officials across the U.S. are worried about similar scenes playing out in their communities. The mayor of Yuma, Ariz., has pleaded for federal assistance, while the mayor of Chicago unsuccessfully asked Texas to not bus more migrants to her city, and New York City’s mayor is pressuring the state and federal governments to provide billions of dollars in aid.

The Biden administration has been scrambling to prepare for what it expects will be a significant surge of migrants when it stops using the public health measure known as Title 42 to rapidly expel migrants beginning May 11, the same day the national Covid-19 emergency ends.

Officials have estimated illegal crossings will double from recent averages, to 10,000 or 11,000 a day in coming weeks.

Already, news of the pandemic-era policy’s end date has spread widely south of the border. Border Patrol agents arrested more than 22,000 migrants in a three-day period starting over the weekend, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz tweeted Monday.

The Border Patrol had more than 20,000 migrants in custody as of Monday, according to an official with knowledge of the matter. In March, the agency detained an average of 8,600 migrants a day.

Marilu Lira, who manages two shelters in Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, said hundreds of migrants have arrived, mostly families from Central America. She said the two shelters are at capacity, hosting some 3,000 people in total.

In Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, shelters are also full with around 5,000 migrants, and there are likely another 5,000 to 7,000 in hotels and private homes, said Enrique Lucero, director for migrant attention at the city government.

Then-President Donald Trump began using Title 42 to turn back migrants to Mexico before they could ask for asylum. The Biden administration has previously tried to end the policy, but was blocked by courts.

The administration is readying a new set of policies that would allow the government to quickly deport most migrants crossing into the U.S. back to their home countries, rather than across the border to Mexico. But that policy may not have an immediate effect if the Border Patrol is so overwhelmed that it can’t quickly process migrants for deportation.

Late Tuesday, in a joint statement with the U.S., Mexico announced that it would continue to accept the return of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela on humanitarian grounds as part of a broader effort to stem the flow of illegal border crossers.

The U.S. Defense Department is sending an additional 1,500 troops to the border temporarily for three months to augment Customs and Border Protection missions there, according to a U.S. official. Before this latest deployment, the Pentagon had already sent 2,500 troops to the southern border at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. The additional 1,500 would join them on an existing deployment and fill areas of the mission that have gaps, including ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry and warehouse support, the official said.

The first contingent of U.S. troops, composed of Marines and soldiers, will begin to arrive as early as May 10, said Brig Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman.

Military personnel aren’t allowed to act as law enforcement on American soil, so they can’t directly perform arrests of migrants. Instead, they will help with some of the administrative tasks—such as helping process requests from asylum-seeking migrants in need of immigration court dates.

“This is a common practice. These personnel will be performing administrative tasks like data entry and warehouse support,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.

On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a news conference that with the imminent lifting of Title 42, migrant smugglers have been telling would-be asylum seekers that it is a good time to reach the U.S.

“No, don’t take the risk, don’t risk it. We’re looking for an orderly mechanism,” Mr. López Obrador said to potential border crossers.

Previous surges of illegal border crossers have overwhelmed communities along the border where migrants first arrive and in other areas where they subsequently head or are bused by state officials in the south. Migrants have ended up filling shelters, camping on streets and stressing the resources of local aid groups to provide food and assistance.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls said Tuesday that he supports the troop deployment, though there are still unanswered questions about how it will work.

“At the end of the day, it is some sort of acknowledgment of what’s going on,” said the Republican, who previously asked the Biden administration to deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency and possibly the National Guard to help manage the volume of migrants expected to arrive in the city, which has no shelters.

Congress last year appropriated $800 million to assist local governments and nonprofits coping with large numbers of migrants.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said last week that caring for newly arrived asylum seekers in his city is likely to cost $4.3 billion through the summer of 2024.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Sunday asking him not to continue busing migrants to her city.

“I am, yet again, appealing to your better nature and asking that you stop this inhumane and dangerous action,” the Democrat wrote. “Since we began responding to the arrival of migrants sent by your delegation in August 2022, we have shouldered the responsibility of caring for more than 8,000 men, women, and children with no resources of their own.”

In a letter to her Monday, Mr. Abbott said Ms. Lightfoot should appeal to the Biden administration to toughen border security.

“As the mayor of a self-declared sanctuary city, it is ironic to hear you complain about Chicago’s struggle to deal with a few thousand illegal immigrants, which is a fraction of the record-high numbers we deal with in Texas on a regular basis,” the Republican wrote. “Until Biden secures the border to stop the inflow of mass migration, Texas will continue this necessary [busing] program.”

The potential for a new border surge comes at a sensitive moment for Mr. Biden, who last week launched his campaign for re-election. Republicans have made Mr. Biden’s handling of the border an issue in their campaigns and agenda in the House, where they hold a majority.

On Thursday, Republicans introduced a border bill that would address many of what they view as shortfalls to the system and Mr. Biden’s approach. It would reinstate a policy known as Remain in Mexico, which would force migrants seeking asylum to live in dangerous northern Mexican border cities for the duration of their immigration cases, and make many more migrants categorically ineligible for asylum at all, meaning they could be quickly deported after crossing the border.

House Republican leadership plans to hold a vote on the bill on May 11, the same day Title 42 is scheduled to end. The bill isn’t expected to receive any consideration from the Senate, which Democrats control.

Andrew Restuccia, Gordon Lubold, Jimmy Vielkind, Juan Montes and Anthony Harrup contributed to this article.

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