The Defense Department is ramping up resources at the US-Mexico border as officials describe a surge in border crossings in places including Eagle Pass, Texas, where the mayor has declared a state of emergency.
Some 800 new active-duty personnel are being sent to the border, where 2,500 National Guard members already are serving, Department of Homeland Security officials announced Wednesday night in a call with reporters.
The move comes as migrant crossings along that border are rising, surpassing 8,600 over the last 24 hours, according to a Department of Homeland Security official. That’s up from around 3,500 daily border arrests after the expiration in May of Title 42 triggered new consequences for those who cross the border illegally. There were than 8,000 apprehensions on Monday.
The busiest sectors are Del Rio, El Paso, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Tucson – each facing more than 1,000 encounters over the last 24 hours, according to the official. Eagle Pass is in the Del Rio sector.
The influx has strained federal resources and overwhelmed already-crowded facilities, officials have said.
Officials gave no clear explanation for what has prompted the latest surge and said they’re still working through specific reasons. They continued to identify disinformation from smugglers, poor economies, authoritarian regimes and the climate crisis as forces driving migration.
Many who leave their homes for the United States face long and dangerous treks in hopes of finding better, safer lives. Some may flee violence, while others may immigrate for economic opportunities or to reunite with family, experts say. Deteriorating conditions in Latin America exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic also have contributed to the influx of migrants into the US.
Recent court filings have underscored the challenges administration officials face in receiving the increased number of people arriving at the border, including crowded processing areas leading to children being temporarily separated from their parents.
Since President Joe Biden took office, officials have set up additional soft-sided facilities similar to tent complexes to process the growing number of migrants crossing the border, but those facilities are not equipped to provide long-term care.
Around 3,000 migrants crossed into the US near Eagle Pass on Wednesday alone, a source familiar with the situation told CNN. Hundreds waited in the city of around 28,000 about 150 miles southeast of San Antonio for transport to a processing facility and were moved out quickly, the source said.
Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. declared a state of emergency Tuesday, citing a “severe undocumented immigrant surge” into Eagle Pass.
“The City of Eagle Pass is committed to the safety and well being of our local citizens. The emergency declaration grants us the ability to request financial resources to provide additional services caused by the influx of the undocumented immigrants,” Salinas said in a news release without providing specifics on the number of migrants encountered.
US Customs and Border Protection is temporarily suspending vehicle processing operations at a crossing in Eagle Pass “in order to redirect personnel to assist the US Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody,” the agency announced in a statement Wednesday.
“In response to this influx in encounters, we will continue to surge all available resources to expeditiously and safely process migrants,” Customs and Border Protection said in the statement. “We will maximize consequences against those without a legal basis to remain in the United States.”
Border authorities in Eagle Pass processed the large influx of migrants on Wednesday in an “orderly way” but warned the administration will “impose consequences” on as many people as possible who crossed, Department of Homeland Security officials said. Consequences could include expedited removals and other penalties available under the Title 8 process.
The US military has long provided support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the border and a surge of personnel to the area is not unprecedented, or unexpected, amid strains on federal resources. Troops have generally served in a support role rather than enforcement. Military personnel will not have direct contact with migrants, according to a Department of Defense spokesperson.
The up to 800 additional personnel will, for 90 days, “fill critical capability gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, information analysis, transportation, and supply chain support, until DHS can address these needs through contracted support,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “This deployment is consistent with other forms of military support to DHS over many years.”
In May, ahead of the expiration of the Covid-era Title 42 restriction, US Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 8,000 people daily and had around 25,000 migrants in custody, raising alarm within the Biden administration.
Source : Wtop