Thousands of migrants from banned Title 42 countries are still being allowed to cross over into the US despite President Biden’s claims of a strict new border policy — forcing overrun shelters in El Paso, Texas to surge to 130% capacity as the city teeters on the brink of chaos once more.
In January the administration announced citizens of Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua would have to “request to come to the United States in a safe and orderly way” by applying from another country and obtaining entry documents before flying into the US.
President Biden said at the time: “If your application is denied or you attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, you will not be allowed to enter.”
However, migrants from those countries are still being admitted over the border to claim asylum. In El Paso alone — one of the 71 checkpoints operated by Customs and Border Protection on the southern border — an average of 300 migrants were released into the community daily over the last week, the city’s dashboard shows.
Venezuelan migrants interviewed by The Post this week admitted they had previously been turned away from the border before being let in at a later attempt. One person in a shelter put migrants’ chances at “50-50” of making it through.
Under pandemic-era measure Title 42, illegal border crossers from many Central and South American countries can be quickly expelled back into Mexico, as a way for the Biden administration to try and get a handle on surging border crossings.
Thousands of migrants are processed and then expelled in this way, but the pandemic-era measure ends on May 11 and border sources fear the situation will get much worse and are expecting a tidal wave of migrants.
The Opportunity Center shelter in downtown El Paso is among those already overburdened, with director John Martin saying they are dealing with “staggering numbers” of migrants.
The Opportunity Center shelter in downtown El Paso is among those currently overburdened by the ongoing influx, with director John Martin saying they are dealing with “staggering numbers” of migrants.
Currently, the shelter is running at 130% capacity with 110 people, despite there only being room for 85.
“We’re trying to prepare ourselves for the worst come May 11, when Title 42 is lifted. We anticipate the numbers are going to be staggering,” Martin told The Post, confirming our earlier reports there are between 20,000 to 40,000 people already waiting to cross over from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Backing up those fears, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua said after visiting Juarez this week there were 35,000 migrants camped and waiting to cross, according to Border Report.
Martin said El Paso can cater to 500 migrants per night, shared between four different shelters. The city is also said Tuesday is it currently processing over 5,000 people to be ejected back over the border, who are temporarily held at a processing center and a tent facility erected by the federal government.
“But if you even have 500 coming on a daily basis, we’ll be inundated. We’re working with the city of El Paso to see if they’re going to stand up a shelter. I think that is desperately needed,” Martin said.
The Post witnessed hundreds of migrants lining up at a border crossing gate in El Paso Wednesday, at an area where those seeking asylum have taken to regularly surrendering to US Border Patrol agents.
Those who are admitted to the US are granted the opportunity to stay in the country until their cases have been adjudicated — which can sometimes take years.
Those who hand themselves in at the border are willing to risk being immediately expelled under Title 42, which comes with no penalty, rather than wait for an appointment through the CBP One app — the way Venezuelans, Haitians, Cubans and Nicaraguans are supposed to apply to enter the country.
“It’s a 50/50 chance you can get in,” Elena Quintaro, a mom-of-two from Venezuela, told The Post.
Quintaro said she and her two children were let in this week on her first try, although her husband wasn’t allowed to enter the US.
Maria and Ali Angel Jose, also of Venezuela, said they waited in Ciudad Juarez for three months trying to get an appointment through the CBP One app but after being unable to secure anything, they turned themselves in at the border.
Their first attempt failed, but they were admitted upon trying again last week.
“We were afraid we’d get expelled but there was more fear not to do anything because you have to risk to be able to gain something,” Maria said.
‘It’s a thing of luck. You see single men get through or single women, then a family with kids will get expelled.”
She added: “They’re not going to be able to stop [migrant crossings]. They’d have to come up a plan that works for the US, as well as benefits the migrants. They don’t understand what we went through. We have a need, our children need to eat and an education.”
The Biden administration has expelled migrants 2.7 million times under Title 42 — a Trump-era public health rule that was adopted by the current White House. It is still in place despite President Biden signing a bill on April 10 ending the national emergency over COVID-19.
El Paso issued a state of emergency in December 2022 as up to 6,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, poured over the border and overwhelmed the city and its services.
Texas congressman Tony Gonzales (R) said the White House’s actions have not lived up to its tough talk, telling The Post: “The Biden Admin has selectively marketed what they think will sell. They claim they’ve cracked down on illegal immigration but the realities playing out on the ground are much different.
“Their policy is a drop in the bucket and with title 42 rolling back, things are about to get much worse.”
Homeland Security officials have predicted the number of illegal migrants from Mexico could surge to 13,000 a day when Title 42 expires, up from the roughly 5,500 recorded in February.
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