The U.S. will see 1 million migrant encounters in the first half of Fiscal Year 2022, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as the administration plans to start administering coronavirus vaccines to those in custody as it weighs ending Title 42 as early as next month.
This figure just accounts for migrants encountered, meaning there could be thousands of other ‘gotaways’ who evaded CBP when illegally crossing into the U.S.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told Fox News that in the next few days, CBP will have encountered 1 million migrants from when the federal fiscal year started in October 2022.
The Biden administration said this month that it is considering ending the Trump-era Title 42, which allows for the instant expulsion of migrants arriving in the U.S. during a public health emergency. The policy has extended through Biden’s presidency, and has even been defended in court as a way to quell the spread of COVID-19 and the migration crisis.
Immigration advocacy groups have been calling for an end to the policy, claiming it is no longer needed as pandemic restrictions ease and case and death rates continue to decline.
When Title 42 does eventually end, reports claim that there are somewhere around 170,000 migrants waiting on the Mexican side of the border and prepared to immediately head towards the U.S. to claim asylum.
Two sources familiar with planning told CNN that the administration is preparing to offer vaccines to migrants taken into custody at the U.S.-Mexico border as warnings of an influx mount.
Every 60 days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reassess Title 42, which was imposed by former President Donald Trump at the on-set of the pandemic to allow for immediate expulsion of asylum-seekers as the virus spread.
A report earlier this month showed that at least 5,000 migrants are prepared to immediately cross once the Trump-era coronavirus provision ends.
In preparation for this surge, the Department of Homeland Security is prepared to initially provide up to 2,700 vaccines per day to migrants at their facilities, it said in a notice to Congress obtained by CNN. They plan to increase that to 6,000 daily by the end of May.
Authorities won’t be able to rely on Title 42 to turn away migrants, which has been done over the last two years – even in the midst of the largest migration crisis in recent years with millions of encounters since Biden took office.
So far in the 2022 fiscal year – meaning from October 1, CBP has encountered 838,635 migrants at the southern border. When numbers come out for March, Ortiz is saying it will be at least 161,365 to make a total of 1 million from October 1 to April 1, 2022.
That would be on par with the 164,973 encounters in February of this year – and it’s likely the March figures will be higher due to seasonal trends where the number of crossings tends to increase in the spring as the weather gets warmer.
Last Monday White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will consider ending Title 42 as early as next month and admitted once the pandemic-era provision ends it could mean a large influx of illegal border crossings.
‘There are timelines, including, I think, upcoming in April, on when it continues to be reconsidered and those discussions have been among the health experts, from the CDC and other medical experts within the administration,’ she said during her daily briefing on March 21.
‘And you always have to prepare because if they make that decision there would be an implementation that would be in part led by the Department of Homeland Security and others that you have to plan for,’ she added.
Since that briefing, Psaki tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to accompany Biden on his trip to Eastern Europe in the midst of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The conflict there has further complicated the migrant crisis at the southern border as large influxes of those fleeing Ukraine are seeking asylum in the U.S. The administration said it would accept 100,000 asylum-seekers from Ukraine to help with the crisis in Europe.
When asked during last Monday’s briefing whether ending Title 42 would also mean preparing for an influx of migrants to come to the border, Psaki confirmed ‘certainly, that would be part of it.
She added: ‘If and when the CDC makes that determination.’