As if the Biden administration didn’t have enough problems on its plate, we’re about to see another spring surge at the border. This one could be significantly worse than the “challenge” the administration was facing last year, which you may remember set a record for border encounters.
As Karen pointed out this morning, DHS has started a mass release of migrants under what it calls “humanitarian parole.” The timing of this is not accidental. For one thing, it appears the usual seasonal surge has already begun:
According to preliminary U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data obtained by The Washington Post, authorities are on pace to make more than 200,000 detentions along the Mexican border in March, the highest monthly total since August.
Here’s the chart showing the current numbers not including March (we likely won’t get March numbers for 2 more weeks) which are represented by that light orange line at the top. As you can see a figure of more than 200,000 this month would surpass all but the very peak of the surge last year.
And that’s how things look now assuming nothing else changes. But it’s increasingly likely that something else will change. Title 42 allows the border patrol to expel migrants on public health grounds and, since it was put in place in March 2020, about 1.7 million migrants have been expelled on that basis. But the Biden administration is under pressure to end Title 42. They considered ending it last year and reviewed that decision again in January. The next review is set for next week and with the number of coronavirus cases down sharply, a justification for extending it could be hard to come by:
COVID-19 rates are plunging among migrants crossing the border from Mexico as the Biden administration faces a Tuesday deadline to end or extend sweeping restrictions on asylum aimed at limiting the coronavirus’ spread. Lower infection rates raise more questions about the scientific justification for a public health order that has caused migrants to be expelled from the U.S. more than 1.7 million times since March 2020 without a chance to request asylum…
As mask mandates have lifted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is under mounting pressure to fully restore asylum by ending the Title 42 order, named for a 1944 public health law. Critics say it has been an excuse to wriggle out of asylum obligations under U.S. law and international treaty.
The Washington Examiner reported Wednesday that CBP officials are confident Title 42 is ending soon.
Three senior Customs and Border Protection officials and a Border Patrol union leader told the Washington Examiner that the expectation at the agency is that CDC will choose not to renew Title 42 when it expires on April 20 and that the CBP is preparing to announce plans for handling the change before then…
“I’m certain the decision has been made by CDC and talks are taking place between agencies to figure out how to announce it and be prepared for the further invasion on the [southwest] border,” a senior CBP official wrote in a text on Wednesday, referencing internal discussions at the agency.
So, to sum this up a bit, the number of migrants arriving at the border this month is going to be near the peak we saw last summer and now it looks like the administration is also about to end Title 42 which is why, as the Post reported yesterday, “authorities are bracing for a ‘mass migration event.'”
Once word goes out that no one is being turned away under Title 42 anymore there’s really no telling what this could look like in a couple of months. Recall that last year we were using convention centers, military bases and other impromptu facilities around the country as temporary HHS holding facilities because the usual border facilities were overrun.
And that’s why Sens. Sinema and Kelly of Arizona sent a letter yesterday, urging the Biden administration not to end Title 42 with a clear plan to deal with what happens next.
We write to you to express great concern about the lack of a specific plan from your Administration with respect to potential changes to the Title 42 Public Health authority, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has relied on at the border during the coronavirus pandemic. Given the impacts that changes to Title 42 could have on border communities, border security, and migrants, we urge your Administration not to make any changes to Title 42 implementation until you are completely ready to execute and coordinate a comprehensive plan that ensures a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border. We also request that you provide a full briefing to Congress on your plan before implementation and execution…
Last month alone, CBP expelled 91,513 migrants under Title 42, and processed 73,460 individuals under Title 8.1 The January figures are comparable, showing only a slight trend upward on the number of expulsions. Of those encounters, nearly thirty percent occurred in Arizona.2 A sharp end to Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in motion would significantly increase the strain on DHS, border communities, and local nonprofits that are already near or at capacity.
With a real crisis on the horizon, the Senators from Arizona want to see the Biden administration’s homework before we step off the cliff. And that implies that, as far they know now, there is no plan in place. My own speculation is that the administration has some sort of plan in mind but isn’t revealing it because the details would attract a lot of media attention to a situation the White House would rather not have the media focus on. They might not have a choice about that for much longer.
Allahpundit-style exit question: In light of this looming crisis, will President Biden finally make a visit to the border? Or will the White House continue to claim his 2008 drive-by counts?