Uncertainty at US Borders as Title 42 Expires

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have gathered at the US-Mexico border following the expiration of Title 42 and an ensuing immigration rules transition.

The Department of Homeland Security estimated that 23,000 migrants were in Border Patrol custody 24 hours after the expiraiton of the rule, with Texas cities including Laredo, El Paso and Brownsville already having declared a state of emergency ahead of time as they prepared for an increase in migrant activity.

Title 42 was initially imposed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) during the COVID-19 pandemic as a measure to slow the spread of coronavirus, with 2.8 million migrants being turned away under the rule. Now, under Title 8, asylum seekers who enter the US illegally will be detained, deported, issued a five-year ban on re-entry and may face criminal charges.

The changeover period has left many of the gathered asylum seekers in legal limbo. “We knew this was going to be a difficult transition,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in an interview.

Despite the influx in migrants, however, the disruption seen on 12 May was smaller than some officials anticipated. Blas Nuñez, the Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy, said to CNN that there had been no “substantial increase overnight or an influx at midnight” of migrants as the rule expired.

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