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With Title 42 set to expire, border towns brace for migrants

(NewsNation) — Border towns across Texas are preparing for a potential increase of migrants as the controversial border policy Title 42 is set to end this week.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has said he believes that the crisis at the southern border will get worse after Title 42 ends, says he is ramping up border strategies ahead of Wednesday.

Several state agencies, law enforcement alongside border patrol, and humanitarian organizations are working together to help these border communities, particularly in El Paso, where Mayor Oscar Lesser declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

“We know that the influx on Wednesday will be incredible,” Lesser said. “Will be huge.”

Data from the city shows there are more than 3,000 migrants in border patrol custody.

Officials say by Wednesday they could see up to 6,000 crossing per day, just in El Paso, and hundreds get released to the streets each day because there isn’t enough capacity to process and house them.

Other border towns, like Eagle Pass and Laredo, are facing the same crisis.

On top of it all, it is supposed to be extremely cold in Texas this week with below-zero windchills in some parts of the state by Friday, forecasters said.

Title 42, first implemented under the Trump administration in the spring of 2020, allowed border officials to turn away migrants seeking asylum claims under a public health emergency during the pandemic.

After months of legal challenges, a federal judge ruled last month the policy no longer made sense when vaccines were available and other pandemic restrictions were lifted. He gave the Biden administration five weeks to phase out Title 42 — a period that expires on Wednesday.

Though Democrats have been critical of Title 42, it was used at an even higher rate under the Biden administration and has turned away migrants about 2.5 million times at the border since 2020.

The policy has helped turn away migrants from countries experiencing worsening conditions like Haiti, making it nearly impossible for them to make asylum claims.

“If the courts are not going to intervene and put a halt to the removal of Title 42,” Abbott said. “It’s going to be total chaos.”

The Biden administration says it is preparing and will make sure this is dealt with humanely. They’re also calling on Congress to pass immigration reform but have no immediate solution to the crisis at the border.

A federal appeals court declined to delay Title 42’s end last week; that means Wednesday is the day unless the Supreme Court steps in.

Texas has already spent about $4 billion trying to deal with the issue at the border through Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” program.

Last week, Abbott called for the Texas attorney general to investigate immigration NGOs after he said there were reports they may have helped with illegal border crossings.

NewsNation reached out to Abbott’s office for more clarification but has not yet heard back.  

So far, Abbott’s office has bussed more than 14,000 migrants to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City.

New York Mayor Eric Adams released a statement in advance of Title 42’s end, saying the city’s shelters are full and there needs to be a better plan.

“I refuse to be forced to choose new arrivals over current new yorkers. I’ll say it again — we need a plan, we need assistance, and we need it now.”


Meanwhile, the city of Denver also issued an emergency declaration earlier this month after hundreds of undocumented migrants came to the mile-high city unexpectedly. The city’s mayor said it’s pushing the city and its resources to a breaking point.