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Title 42’s ends: Fear and confusion along the U.S.-Mexico border

Newsman: The border restrictions ‘Title 42’ has ended Thursday night. A record increase in unauthorized arrivals along the U.S.-Mexico border is being seen. Migrants rushed across the Mexico border Thursday in hopes of entering the U.S. in the final hours before pandemic-related asylum restrictions are lifted.  The Border Patrol authority processing more than 10,000 migrants every day, according to the Department of Homeland Security official ; that’s nearly double the daily average of about 5,200 in March, the latest publicly available data, and close to the 11,000 that U.S. officials have predicted is the upper limit of the surge they anticipate after Title 42.

U.S. officials have attributed the sudden jump in migrant crossings to the fast-approaching end of the Title 42 pandemic-related restrictions. The rule has allowed U.S. border agents to cite public health concerns to quickly expel some migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum.

This week, Border Patrol processed more than 10,000 migrants each day across the southern border, setting all-time records for 24-hour periods, a senior Department of Homeland Security official told CBS News.

 On Wednesday, Homeland Security announced a rule to make it extremely difficult for anyone who travels through another country, like Mexico, to qualify for asylum. It also introduced curfews with GPS tracking for families released in the U.S. before initial asylum screenings. On Wednesday, More than 27,000 people were in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, official said prompting officials to authorize the quick release of some migrants found not to be a threat to public safety or national security.

The administration considered detaining families until they cleared initial asylum screenings but opted instead for family curfews, which will run from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and begin soon in Baltimore, Chicago, Washington and Newark, New Jersey, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended to be public.

Families who do not show up for screening interviews will be picked up by immigration authorities and deported.

Earlier in the week, federal officials warned migrants who entered the U.S. surreptitiously and were sleeping on the streets of El Paso that they could face arrest and deportation if they did not report to the main port of entry there. 

At the same time, the administration has introduced expansive new legal pathways into the United States.Up to 30,000 people a month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela can enter if they apply online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport. Processing centers are opening in Guatemala, Colombia and elsewhere. Up to 1,000 can enter daily though land crossings with Mexico if they snag an appointment on an online app.

Lifting restrictions have left local officials and volunteers in  worries about their ability to help the new arrivals, and migrants confused about how the looming shift in U.S. policy will affect them.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been unveiling strict new measures to replace the restrictions known as Title 42. The outgoing rules have allowed border officials since March 2020 to quickly return asylum seekers back over the border on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The new policies crack down on illegal crossings while also setting up legal pathways for migrants who apply online, seek a sponsor and undergo background checks. If successful, the reforms could fundamentally alter how migrants arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Confusion and anxiety among migrants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border was also palpable amid a web of complicated and constantly changing U.S. policies. In Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, migrants living in tents and shelters are weighing whether to cross into the U.S. without authorization after Title 42, or to continue waiting for appointments to enter the U.S. legally that the Biden administration is distributing through a phone app.

Migrants in El Paso consider themselves lucky to be on American soil. But many of them entered the U.S. unlawfully without being apprehended by Border Patrol and don’t have official government documents, including court notices, that allow them to travel freely within the U.S.

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