As Title 42’s expiration approached, Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, implored asylum seekers to avoid risking their lives and savings just to be removed from the United States. He warned that those arriving at the border after Title 42’s expiration would not be eligible to claim asylum. During a press briefing on Thursday, Mayorkas outlined the Biden administration’s strategy for managing the significant influx of illegal immigrants since the lifting of the Title 42 public health order. The government intends to use its jurisdiction under Title 8 to impose severe penalties on illegal immigrants, including a minimum five-year prohibition on entry and possible criminal prosecution.
Mayorkas stated unequivocally that the United States does not have open borders. Anyone caught entering the country illegally and without proper documentation would be deported as soon as possible. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources, Border Patrol agents apprehended another 10,000 migrants on Wednesday, the third consecutive day of such apprehensions under the Biden administration. This week has seen the largest daily totals in the history of the Border Patrol in anticipation of Title 42’s termination.
Currently, around 26,000 migrants are in federal custody, most of whom are held by CBP. The southern border’s capacity is approximately 19,000, and many sectors are operating at or near full capacity. Mayorkas stated that the situation has placed a significant burden on staff, infrastructure, and local communities, with whom they work closely. While acknowledging that the strategy would take time to produce results, Mayorkas stated that the administration had spent nearly two years preparing for this and was confident that it would succeed.
Fox News sources reveal that the Border Patrol’s current focus is to minimize the appearance of overcrowding and move migrants through the system as quickly as possible. If CBP and NGO partners are unable to hold them, “safe” mass street releases have been authorized earlier this week. In other words, the greatest wave of mass releases ever has begun, and it will likely continue for a few more days.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, both the Trump and Biden administrations have used Title 42 to expedite deportations. Title 42 expulsions occurred in 46% of all contacts in March. Migrants flocked to the border after the Trump administration announced the end of Title 42, hoping to gain entry to the United States. Although the Biden administration has plans for mass releases of migrants, Mayorkas denied that the border was open and attributed the overcrowding to human traffickers who provided false information to those hoping to enter the country legally.
Mayorkas urged anyone seeking asylum in the United States to utilize the CBP One smartphone app, which allows for the scheduling of appointments at ports of entry, as well as other legal channels granted to immigrants by the Biden administration. Although Mayorkas avoided answering whether the administration’s message was being undermined by the overcrowding at Border Patrol facilities and the necessary release of certain migrants, he acknowledged the extraordinary talent and heroism of the United States Border Patrol and the personnel of the Department of Homeland Security who were managing an exceptional challenge successfully.