End of Title 42 has not led to 'substantial increase' at border, Biden officials say
By The Citizen on May 12, 2023
Biden administration officials said Friday they have yet to see an uptick of migrants at the southern border in the wake of Title 42’s termination, but asylum officers have been told they must work throughout the weekend to help process claims.
While officials expected to see an increase of migrants at the border following the end of Title 42, which allowed for the U.S. to turn them away almost immediately, flows have not yet altered in the immediate hours following the lift of the policy.
“Overnight, we saw similar patterns to what we’ve seen over the past several days. We continue to encounter high levels of non-citizens at the border but we did not see a substantial increase overnight or an influx at midnight,” Blas Nuñez-Neto, chief operating officer at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said on a call Friday with reporters.
Asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, were notified they must work mandatory overtime on both Saturday and Sunday.
“Developments emerging over the course of the day made clear that more resources are needed, and we must take immediate steps to increase the number of staff available on both Saturday and Sunday to meet the need,” a USCIS official told staff in an email obtained by The Hill.
The email states the move is needed to “ensure full operational readiness.”
“We are clear-eyed about the challenges we face in the days and weeks ahead, and we are ready to meet them. We expected to see large numbers of encounters initially; we are already seeing high numbers of encounters in certain sectors. This places an incredible strain on our personnel, our facilities and our communities,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a Thursday White House press briefing ahead of Title 42’s lifting.
The Biden administration has surged resources to the border, including sending 24,000 border agents, along with military troops and asylum officers.
Still, Nuñez-Neto cautioned that conditions could change.
“The men and women from the U.S. Border Patrol and the Office of Field Operations who are on the frontlines are experienced in managing these types of situations and are doing outstanding work. It is still early, however,” he said.
Migrants arriving at the border have been encouraged to use CBP One — a smartphone app operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection — to apply for asylum or make appointment requests. However, the app has faced months of complaints due to glitchiness and an insufficient number of languages supported by it.
Nuñez-Neto said to speed processing, they are expanding the number of appointments through the app, devoting half the slots to those who have already requested an appointment, while the rest will be randomly assigned to newcomers, as well as those who have already applied.
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