Amid public reassurances that the southwest border is under control, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week asked senior officials if they were prepared to handle as many as 400,000 migrants crossing in October, nearly double the 21-year high in July.
Two unnamed DHS officials who told NBC News of the phone call said the department is worried about a massive spike in migrants as the court-ordered repeal of the Title 42 expulsion policy takes effect Friday.
Title 42 is the order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Trump administration authorizing border officers to immediately reject asylum seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Axios reported Panama’s foreign minister has warned that as many as 60,000 more migrants, mostly Haitian, are heading to the United States through her country. She said the Biden administration seemed caught off guard after “we sounded the alarm.”
The administration has not fully complied with the Title 42 order, allowing exceptions for unaccompanied minors and some families with young children. But some far-left Democrats and immigrant advocacy groups, who have sued the White House, want to do away with Title 42 altogether.
The advocates won a ruling from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Sept. 16 that the administration has no authority to block migrants seeking asylum. The judge set an Oct. 1 deadline for compliance. The administration appealed the ruling, but the U.S. Court of Appeals has not intervened.
The DHS fears the elimination of Title 42 will send the message that the border is open to illegal immigration.
From February through August, more than 1.2 million migrants illegally crossed into the United States.
Meanwhile, Breitbart Texas reports internal documents show the Biden administration has instructed Border Patrol agents to stop expelling all migrant family units under the Title 42 order.
In addition, on Wednesday DHS released a statement announcing it will terminate the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the “Remain in Mexico” program.
MPP, negotiated with Mexico during the Trump administration, allows illegal immigrants to be returned to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings instead of being released in the U.S. and told to show up for a hearing.
In its statement Wednesday, DHS said it “remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”
Mayorkas acknowledged on Sunday that the vast majority of the Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S.
As many as 12,000, he told “Fox News Sunday” had been released until their court date. Some 3,000 were in detention at the time, and 5,000 were still awaiting the processing of their cases.
‘We cannot continue to surrender’
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marsha Blackburn on Thursday sent a letter to Biden contending the president’s policies have “emboldened” migrants.
“We call on you to immediately send a clear and concise signal to the massive caravan en route that they must turn around. Smuggling and trafficking should not be tolerated by the United States,” the senators wrote.
“We cannot continue to surrender our southern border to drug cartels and coyotes. An open border like ours is a green light to those who see human life as a commodity.”