Officials at the southern border are seeing massive migrant numbers at the southern border, along with a number of large groups, ahead of the expected end of the ability to expel migrants under the Title 42 public health order in a few weeks.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources tell Fox News that migrant numbers for FY 2023, which began in October, are at over 485,000 and are expected to hit the half a million mark this weekend. So far, 156,000 have been expelled under Title 42.
That order, implemented during the Trump administration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has allowed the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border, However, it is due to expire on Dec. 21 after a court order ruled that its implementation was unlawful, leading to widespread and bipartisan fears of a surge on top of a surge.
The nearly half-million encountered since October means the numbers are outpacing FY 2022, when there were over 517,000 encounters by the end of December, and FY 21 where there were just over 216,000 in the same period. In FY 2020, there were only 458,058 encounters for the entire fiscal year.
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These numbers, coming in typically quieter months at the border, are leaving Border Patrol agents overwhelmed as agents get hit with enormous migrant groups. In the last 24 hours, there were more than 2,100 illegal crossings in Del Rio Sector.
In Eagle Pass, Texas, Fox News witnessed as a massive group of 650 migrants crossing illegally into Eagle Pass. At the same time, another 350 crossed into the other side of town — meaning 1,000 people crossed in an hour.
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In the El Paso Sector, Fox obtained video showing hundreds crossing into El Paso from across the river, before forming a single line and surrendering to authorities. Sources in the sector tell Fox that there have been more than 2,600 illegal crossings in the last 24 hours alone in the sector — numbers that are unheard of for December.
The numbers are likely only to fuel concerns about the impending ending of Title 42. The Department of Homeland Security has said repeatedly that it has a six-point plan in place to cope with what it accepts will be an immediate surge in numbers.
That plan includes an increase of resources and manpower, as well as a greater use of alternative authorities such as expedited removal and punishments for illegal crossings. The administration has also emphasized its anti-smuggling campaigns and cooperation with Western Hemisphere countries.
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But a number of Republicans and Democrats have said that plan is insufficient to deal with the historic numbers that agents may face. In recent days, lawmakers in the Senate have been thrashing out a potential agreement on a framework that would extend Title 42 for a year and provide additional border security funding in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for two million illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors.
However, that proposal has already seen opposition from Democrats and Republicans, and it is unclear whether lawmakers can get a deal in place before Congress recesses on Dec. 21 and before Republicans take control of the House in January.