The southern border saw yet more crossings of massive groups of migrants Wednesday, just as DHS touted its own efforts to reduce crossings in one overwhelmed part of the border — and as migrants and officials face uncertainty about the fate of Title 42.
Fox News cameras in Eagle Pass, Texas, spotted a huge group of over 350 migrants who crossed into a private orchard in the busy part of the border. They lined up and waited to be processed, but had to wait hours for Border Patrol to show up.
Migrants along the border are facing plunging temperatures, with concerns about the potential risks of sustained exposure to freezing conditions.
A second piece of video showed a separate group of about 200 crossing illegally. Those migrants required a law enforcement escort to assist them to Border Patrol processing. Border Patrol agents have frequently been diverted out of the field and into processing, meaning there are fewer agents patrolling the border itself.
SOUTHERN BORDER IN LIMBO AS TITLE 42 HANGS IN BALANCE AFTER TEMPORARY SUPREME COURT STAY
Meanwhile, in El Paso, Texas, which has seen a massive 255% spike in migration compared to the same time last fiscal year and has declared a state of emergency, temperatures are even colder and migrants have been seen making fires to keep warm as they wait to be let into the U.S. Texas law enforcement has set up concertina wire and humvees along the border, in an effort to keep migrants from crossing illegally into the U.S.
The massive number of migrants, which has overwhelmed towns and officials, has come ahead of what was expected to be the end of expulsions under the Trump-era Title 42 public health order.
However, that order’s unwinding, due to take place Wednesday, has been put on hold by the Supreme Court in response to a last-minute appeal by Republican led states.
The Biden administration has come under heavy fire from both Republicans and Democrats for its handling of the crisis. The Department of Homeland Security has said it has a six-point plan to deal with the crisis, but it has faced criticism that it is not doing enough to stop the enormous wave of migration hitting the border.
BORDER PATROL UNION PRESIDENT SAYS AGENTS FEEL ‘COMPLETELY DEFEATED’ AHEAD OF TITLE 42’S END
DHS responded to that criticism late Tuesday, specifically related to the situation in El Paso, Texas. In a release, DHS said it has moved over 3,400 migrants out of El Paso via either ICE removal flights or Title 42 expulsions.
Separately, Border Patrol has shifted 6,000 migrants to other sectors to free up processings space. The agency says that average daily encounters have now dropped by 40% from 2,500 a day to a still-high 1,500 day. DHS said that it is a result of the agency’s work with Mexico to discourage illegal immigration and disrupt criminal operations.
“We have deployed additional agents to the region and deployed improved processing systems, automated surveillance towers, rescue beacons, mobile processing units, medical screening personnel, and nearly 1,000 Border Patrol Processing Coordinators for processing migrants and ensuring border security,” the agency said.
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Lawmakers, border officials, and DHS itself have warned of an enormous spike in migration should Title 42 end. The Biden administration has appealed for nearly $4 billion in extra funding, with projections of up to 14,000 crossings a day if and when the order ends — however, it has said that the disruption will be temporary and said that it is not opposed to Title 42’s end.
“The government recognizes that the end of the Title 42 orders will likely lead to disruption and a temporary increase in unlawful border crossings,” the Department of Justice said in its filing to the Supreme Court. “The government in no way seeks to minimize the seriousness of that problem. But the solution to that immigration problem cannot be to extend indefinitely a public-health measure that all now acknowledge has outlived its public-health justification.”
Fox News’ William Mears contributed to this report.