More than 2,400 migrants crossed into the United States near El Paso, Texas, daily over the weekend, according to a senior Border Patrol official, marking what he described as a “major surge in illegal crossings” in the region.
“Over the weekend, the El Paso Sector experienced a major surge in illegal crossings, with a 3-day average of 2,460 daily encounters, primarily through the downtown area of El Paso. We will continue to keep the public informed as the situation evolves,” said acting Chief Patrol Agent Peter Jaquez of the El Paso Sector in a tweet.
Hundreds of migrants have been staying across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, raising concern among officials that many would try to cross when a Trump-era border policy ends in late December.
“The team has been working really hard to ensure we’re taking steps to manage the expiration of Title 42 and put in place a process that’s orderly and humane. And we believe in doing so, we can protect our security concerns,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday.
El Paso city has been monitoring the situation and is in ongoing discussions with federal, state and local partners, according to Laura Cruz Acosta, strategic communications director for the city.
During a visit to El Paso Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with local leadership from across US Customs and Border Protection, as well as local leaders, including Mayor Leeser and County Judge Samaniego, and participated in a roundtable with El Paso NGOs and legal service providers, according to a Homeland Security official.
Mayorkas also met with Border Patrol agents, who offered constructive feedback and discussed preparations for the end of Title 42, a public health authority invoked under the Trump administration that largely barred asylum seekers at the border from entering the US, the official said. The secretary also recognized the difficult situation facing agents.
The visit marked Mayorkas’ 16th trip to the US-Mexico border as secretary.
Administration officials have been preparing for a surge of migrants when Trump-era Covid restrictions are lifted this month following a court order blocking the use of the authority. Since March 2020, when the authority was invoked, border officials have turned away migrants at the US-Mexico border more than 2 million times.
The Biden administration is asking Congress for more than $3 billion as it prepares for the end of the Trump-era border policy later this month, according to a source familiar with the ask. The ask, first reported by NBC News, is intended to shore up resources for border management and technology and is part of broader funding discussions. It is not specific to the end of Title 42, the source said.
“If Republicans in Congress are serious about border security, they would ensure that the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security have the resources they need to secure our border and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said in a statement.
The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it had deployed additional agents to El Paso amid the surge, claiming that criminal smuggling organizations are behind the influx. It is unclear how many additional agents have been deployed there.
“Criminal smuggling organizations are behind this, exploiting vulnerable migrants for enormous profit. The border remains closed, and individuals attempting to enter unlawfully are being expelled as required by court order under the Title 42 public health authority,” a Homeland Security spokesperson said in a statement.
“We have deployed additional agents to the region and have automated processing systems, automated surveillance towers, rescue beacons, mobile processing units, medical screening personnel, and nearly 1,000 Border Patrol Processing Coordinators in place for processing and border security,” the spokesperson added.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.