With a massive surge expected in May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed over 221,000 migrants last month, the highest total since March 2020.
Federal court filings on Friday related to the ending of Title 42 restrictions next month revealed the massive number, a 34% increase over February. They are part of a lawsuit filed by 18 states on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Louisiana over the Biden administration’s plans.
Plans the White House admits are likely to lead to a spike in border crossings. The suit alleges an “imminent, man-made, self-inflicted calamity” in the lifting of the pandemic-era rule that made sending migrants back across the border much easier for Customs officials. Of the 221,303 migrants encountered by Border Patrol in March, 109,549 were expelled under Title 42.
That policy, enacted to restrict migrants from entering the country early in the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to end May 23. The suing states ask for a return to the “Remain in Mexico” policy of the Trump era, but don’t hold your breath.
Homeland Security expects as many as 18,000 migrants a day, over 350,000 per month, when Title 42 is revoked. Even more concerning is CBP data showing 40% of the current encounters are not with migrants from Mexico or what agents call the Northern Triangle countries of Central America.
Elected officials and local law enforcement are clear in their expectation of a massive surge with the lifting of Title 42 next month. A surge that piles on top of an already record increase.
Border Patrol agent Jon Anfinsen warns that when word gets back to families in home countries that migrants are now flooding across the border, the numbers will “dramatically increase.” Agents report the Title 42 surge may have already begun, as encounters with what CBP defines as large groups — 100 or more migrants — have increased in recent weeks.
The humanitarian crisis that is coming, or even has already started, is as preventable as it is predictable. No amount of hand-wringing and finger-pointing when it happens erases the fact that a specific policy was ended, a policy that was effective, and that policy is being replaced with exactly nothing.