Border braces itself for new wave of migrants after Title 42

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention poised to announce the repeal of Trump-era Title 42 health policy at any time, law enforcement and elected officials along the southern border tell The Post they are in the dark about what the plan will be on respond to an expected influx of illegal immigrants – or if there is even a plan.

“There is no plan,” claimed Don McLaughlin, mayor of Uvalde, Texas — a town of about 15,000 people about 60 miles from the Mexico border — this week.

In effect since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Title 42 allows border authorities to immediately deport migrants attempting to enter the United States on public health grounds without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum apply for. According to official estimates, the guideline has been used more than 1.7 million times.

Multiple outlets reported Wednesday that the Biden administration hopes to finalize the policy by May 23 following a CDC review. Should that happen, officials anticipate a potential influx of up to 170,000 people, with up to 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May alone.

Val Verde County, Texas Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez told the Post he suspects the long lead time to the policy’s alleged end date is no coincidence.

“I feel like that’s one of the reasons they extended it, because they don’t have a plan,” he said. “They just can’t abolish it because they don’t have a plan. What will we do next? Last year we called it a crisis. It’s going to be a disaster this year. This is the calm before the storm.”

undocumented immigrants
Officials discovered 46 immigrants and 2 unaccompanied children in the cab and trailer.
Police station Uvalde
Migrants rest in a dormitory at the Good Samaritan Shelter in Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
AP/Christian Chavez
Don McLaughlin
“There is no plan,” said Don McLaughlin, the mayor of Uvalde, Texas.
Facebook / Mayor Don Mclaughlin

Uvalde Mayor McLaughlin said he has spoken to members of Congress and federal officials to try to get support for his city but has been closed so far.

“I told them on the phone yesterday, ‘You’re the 800-pound gorilla. If you want to bring these people in, if you want to send them somewhere, you have to hire buses down here to take them somewhere.’ And they said, ‘Well, we can’t do that,'” he recalled.

“Well, you had no problem moving 15,000 of them under the Del Rio Bridge when you got bored with the publicity,” he said, referring to the massive migrant camp under the border city’s International Bridge that was cleared here last September after images of the cramped and dirty conditions emerged. “You did it in three days.”

With no guidance or support from federal officials, McLaughlin says he has his own plan to protect his city.

“I’m going to take a playbook right out of Black Lives Matter, except I’m going to change it and say ‘Border Lives Matter,'” McLaughlin vowed. “We’re going to close this Highway 90.”

“I hope it never comes to that, that’s not what I want to do, but if you start sending me 200 or 300 people a day, then I’m going to block Highway 90 from one side of town to the other and say ‘Sorry, you can’t make it today’ and draw national attention to it,” the mayor added. “Am I likely to be arrested? Probably, but I’ll bring national attention to it if I have to.”

A Customs and Border Protection agent
A Customs and Border Protection officer asks for documents for a Ukrainian family.
AFP via Getty Images
Ukrainian citizens
Ukrainian citizens on the Mexico side of the border after being denied entry into the United States under Title 42.
AFP via Getty Images
Asylum-seeking migrants
Asylum-seeking migrants cross the Rio Bravo River to seek asylum in El Paso, Texas, the United States, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 30, 2022.
Migrants walk near the border wall after crossing the Rio Bravo River to confront US Border Patrol agents.

If migrants make it to Uvalde, McLaughlin said the current plan is to send them on buses to San Antonio, which is about two hours away — although as he put it, “I’d like to put them on a bus to Washington DC and let you see what we get firsthand.”

Even with Title 42, McLaughlin said, Uvalde is grappling with an influx of illegal immigrants. Most of the buses that travel through the city are already filled with migrants from Eagle Pass and Del Rio, leaving behind those looking for a ride deeper into the US to trek through the city.

“We pretend we’re doing these people this big favor, and they’re not even allowed to get a job,” McLaughlin said. “So we fire millions of people into the United States and they’re not even allowed to get a job. So who should take care of these people? How will they survive?”

Even border guard Jon Anfinsen doesn’t know what to do.

“We don’t have enough information as to what these plans are … assuming they exist,” he told the Post. “We don’t even know what to say [agents] what to expect. We are already in a position where things are as bad as they have ever been. To think they will get worse is difficult to quantify.”

Anfinsen accused Customs and Border Protection of responding to the crisis rather than being proactive, repeating that “not enough information” was being shared with border guards, although he added that “there was talk of putting up big tents in the Rio.” Grande Valley, Laredo, Eagle Pass and El Paso. Such tents are usually intended to serve as the first checkpoints, where migrants will be examined by medical staff and provide officers with basic information.

“Normally they would go to a port of entry and ask for asylum,” Anfinsen said. “Customs basically said, ‘The [Del Rio] bridge is closed You can’t come here.’ So they just turn around and cross the border and the people who have to take care of that are the border guards. she [CBP] will not help in this crisis. If Title 42 goes away, I’m not sure what will happen to customs and if they will open bridges.”

Asylum-seeking migrants
Officials are preparing for 170,000 people with up to 13,000 unaccompanied children at the border.
Mexican Metropolitan Police
Mexico City Police are trying to stop migrants and border activists protesting US-Mexico border policy. / Carlos A. Moreno

Anfinsen told the Post that it “won’t be long” after Title 42 was scrapped for migrants to pour across the border.

“It can take a few days for the word to get out when immigrants who have made it to their final destination call home and say they made it,” the agent said.

“As soon as people get fired, they call home and let them know, ‘Hey, I got through.’ Then you will see the crowds.” Border braces itself for new wave of migrants after Title 42


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