Update on El Paso border situation

The end of Title 42 was scheduled to happen this Wednesday but as you probably heard, Chief Justice John Roberts put a hold on that. It’s not clear how long it will be before that hold ends but what is clear is that there are thousands of migrants heading for the border on the expectation that it won’t be long.

In a “social phenomenon never seen before in the history of the region”, according to one media account, indigenous Miskitos, Tawhkas, Perch, and Garifunas peoples in Honduras began vacating their traditional subsistence lifestyles in December and heading for the American border.

Also in December, U.S.-bound migrants from 40 countries so overwhelmed the small southern Mexican town of San Pedro Tapanatepec in Oaxaca State that it declared bankruptcy and was forced to shutter a massive government shelter on December 17 and expel more than 15,000 immigrants onto a desolate highway with no food or water. All headed north.

In Nicaragua, tens of thousands of young men and women in December began forming lines three-days long to get the passports necessary to exit the country and head for the U.S. border. The Managua scenes indicated a mass exodus so significant that one prominent Nicaraguan economist lamented in a local newspaper that “It breaks the soul to see the children with their backpacks … to see how the country bleeds to death. We are losing the best. They are leaving by the thousands.”

With the end of Title 42 now on hold, many of those migrants are also on hold, waiting at camps inside Mexico for their chance to cross the border and claim asylum.

Migrants are sleeping in tents set up by Ministerio Senda de Vida, a faith-based group, in two camps in Reynosa, Mexico, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

By early this week there were about 1,300 in one camp and 3,000 at a second. Many were from Haiti. One migrant who approached an NBC News crew at a camp had two young children with him and asked for help to get out of the limbo they’ve been in for about two months…

Silva said the space at the encampments is not enough. Thousands more are outside the encampments, waiting to enter.

More than 35,000 have collected in northern Mexican border cities ready to cross December 21, in Tijuana (across from San Diego), Reynosa (across from McAllen), Matamoros (across from Brownsville), Juarez (across from El Paso), Piedras Negras (across from Eagle Pass), and Mexicali (across from Calexico), according to El Sol de Tampico on December 18.

But those are just the ones who can be counted in church and government shelters.

All shelters in all of those cities are far past capacity, but untold thousands more are camping in tents, staying in hotels, or sleeping on building rooftops. Other media accounts say another 40,000 are on their way to join them in these cities from southern Mexico.

Wednesday the NY Times reported that US officials on this side of the border were watching anxiously:

…a tense and uncertain limbo pervaded both sides on Wednesday. Many migrants who hoped to once again be allowed to cross and claim asylum held back, while others forged ahead, wading across the Rio Grande with children lofted above the water or clambering through heavy brush to avoid detection…

In El Paso, newly placed concertina wire rimmed the riverbanks in an area where thousands of migrants had recently crossed. A National Guard member shouted in Spanish at migrants stepping through the shallow waters: “Crossing is illegal!” Some turned around, while others continued across.

“This is just a way to intimidate us, to deter us from trying to cross,” said Roberto Guanipa, 39, a Venezuelan who watched the scene from Ciudad Juárez, on the Mexican side. “We are trying to stay in line and ask for legal asylum. We are not trying to cross illegally.”…

One administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to relay internal discussions, said the department was facing potentially 12,000 illegal border crossings a day once the policy ended, with the resources to manage about 4,000.

Axios reported earlier that 12,000 a day would be the minimum but that 14,000 a day was possible. The Biden administration is reportedly considering new curbs on asylum seekers but so far nothing has been announced. It’s anyone’s guess what Biden is waiting for. Fox News reported yesterday that, according to a new book, Biden was privately very upset about the situation at the border.

In “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House,” author Chris Whipple describes Biden’s fury as his administration attempted to get a grip of the raging crisis at the border in 2021 — where a historic surge was underway, and there was growing criticism of his administration.

“Meanwhile, illegal immigrants kept arriving. And Biden was furious,” the book says. “Aides had rarely seen him so angry. From all over the West Wing, you could hear the president cursing, dropping f-bombs (he’d always apologize when women were present).”

That’s understandable given the scale of the crisis at the time and things have only gotten worse since then. Maybe Biden should stop cursing and do something before it gets even worse.

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