According to the official, US Customs and Border Protection is planning to expand the use of expedited removal for migrants under immigration law, but a temporary restraining order blocking the termination of Title 42 “would restrict DHS’ operation at the border” and disrupt efforts to stem the flow of migration once the authority expires.
“It really makes no sense to us that the plaintiffs would demand, and that the court would order, that DHS be stopped in its use of expedited removal, which, again, is going to prevent us from preparing for the aggressive application of immigration law when the public health order expires. So, we will comply with the court order, but we really disagree with the basic premise,” the official said.
Judge Robert Summerhays, of the Louisiana Western District Court, hasn’t yet issued his temporary restraining order. A hearing in the case is scheduled for May 13, 10 days before Title 42 is set to end.
The Biden administration, under pressure to prove it’s prepared for a potential influx of migrants at the US southern border, revealed additional details about its plans, including surging hundreds of officers and agents and bolstering resources.
In the past three weeks, CBP encountered an average of 7,800 migrants per day across the US southern border, a stark increase from a historical average of 1,600 per day before the pandemic. The change in demographics of migrants has contributed to the uptick, including a steady increase of migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
According to a Department of Homeland Security memo, US Customs and Border Protection deployed 600 officers and agents to the US-Mexico border and is expanding its capacity to hold around 18,000 migrants in custody, up from 13,000. The administration, which began offering Covid-19 vaccines to migrants earlier this year, is expanding sites to 24 locations to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by May 23.
The department added that it will administer consequences to migrants who don’t have claims of asylum by removing them, detaining single adults when appropriate, as well as accelerating asylum adjudications.
Administration officials also stressed the importance of regional partnerships, citing new arrangements with Costa Rica and Panama to stem the flow of migration.
In Tuesday’s memo, DHS again acknowledged the likelihood of an increase in migrants when the Trump-era pandemic restrictions lift on the US-Mexico border.
“Following the lifting of (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) Title 42 public health Order, we expect increased border flows, in light of exploitation by smugglers, continued demand for access to the United States from people fleeing violence and economic turmoil in their home countries, and other factors discussed above,” the memo reads.
This week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to be grilled by Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the anticipated end of the Title 42 public health authority in high-profile hearings. Ahead of those hearings, Mayorkas, along with other administration officials, are conducting a series of briefings with members of Congress and staff.
The briefings come just a day before Mayorkas is set to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee and a subcommittee on Appropriations. On Thursday, Mayorkas will face off with members of the House Judiciary Committee.
This story has been updated with additional developments.