Multiple news outlets at the southern border have reported a surge in unlawful migrant crossings last weekend.
Chief Raul Ortiz, the head of U.S. Border Patrol, tweeted on Monday that over the last 48 hours, Border Patrol had encountered more than 16,000 people illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Ortiz alleged that number included 3 gang members, 2 sex offenders, and 2 murderers. Additionally, border agents reportedly seized over $97 million worth of narcotics.
The Washington Examiner reported that the El Paso sector saw the bulk of the migrant surge, with an estimated 4,500 unlawful migrants in custody from just this past weekend — 2,600 of whom crossed within a 24-hour period on Saturday. More than twice as many unlawful migrants entered El Paso in the last two days as in the entire month of November.
A video released by Bill Melugin, a Fox News reporter, appears to show a massive line of people alongside the Rio Grande River near El Paso, waiting to be processed by border patrol officers.
A separate video captured by El Paso Matters appears to show hordes of people removing their socks and shoes before wading through the river. El Paso Matters stated on its Twitter page that the crossings are “one of the largest mass crossings ever.”
The news site also claimed that approximately 1,500 of the migrants came from Central and South America. Before crossing the border into the United States border, the migrants reportedly were housed by Mexican officials just outside the city of Jiménez.
Melugin claimed that, just before the mass border crossing, the “Mexican police escorted nearly 20 buses full of migrants into Ciudad Juarez” before releasing the migrants to non-governmental organizations. Upon their release, the migrants allegedly walked across the El Paso border.
An unnamed senior border patrol agent reportedly told The Washington Examiner that the surge was due to the expected end of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed border officials to quickly expel unlawful migrants, requiring them to remain in Mexico while filing for asylum. Title 42 is expected to end on December 21.
“They are trying to cross now due to T42 ending soon, which is going to make the process of getting released longer. The system that’s in place won’t be able to accommodate thousands of people on a daily basis,” the border patrol agent explained.
Once Title 42 ends, the Biden administration will return to Title 8, a policy in which unlawful migrants are processed and then either detained, deported, or released and scheduled to appear in U.S. immigration court at a later date. In 2016, the Justice Department reported that 25% of unlawful migrants did not appear for scheduled court dates.
The 16,000-migrant surge may just be the beginning of mass crossings, even after the end of Title 42. A November report released by the Robert Strauss Center for International Security claims that 44,700 asylum-seekers are currently in Mexico on a waiting list to enter the United States.