U.S. Border Officials prepare for influx of illegal migrants as Title 42 ends Thursday

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – As the pandemic-era federal Title 42 policy to block immigrants at the southern border is set to expire Thursday, officials around the county are preparing for an influx of illegal immigrants seeking asylum.

County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas has scheduled a news conference later Wednesday to discuss the county’s efforts to prepare for the policy’s end and “an update on the county’s outreach efforts and partnerships to ensure migrants and asylum seekers can reach their destination safely.”

Originally part of the 1944 Public Health Service Act, Title 42 allows two federal agencies — Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — to prohibit the entry of people who may pose a health risk.

As COVID-19 cases rose in March 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order allowing for rapid expulsion of unauthorized border crossers and asylum seekers. The U.S. Supreme Court under President Donald Trump continued to keep the restrictions in place.

Since it went into place, Customs and Border Protection has turned away more than 3 million asylum seekers. In April 2022, the CDC announced it would terminate the public health order in spring 2023.

President Joe Biden sent an additional 1,500 troops to the border last week in preparation for the end of Title 42. Around 16,000 migrants are waiting in Tijuana for the border restrictions to be lifted.

Other local leaders are concerned about the impact of the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers likely to cross the border into the United States in the coming days and weeks. El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells sent a letter on Wednesday to the White House asking for federal assistance and intervention to help handle the influx.

“I am told that about 1,000 people per day may enter San Diego County, with about 25% of them being dropped off at a light rail station in El Cajon,” Wells wrote. “After speaking with Customs and Border Protection staff, my staff said that our small city would have between 300 and 500 asylum seekers left in El Cajon to fend for themselves.

“I expect to see these people with no credit cards or bank accounts and limited cash, which puts them in a precarious position regarding securing safe temporary housing,” Wells wrote. “I expect these people may need psychological and/or medical intervention and will likely be exhausted, hungry, and disoriented.”

Wells said he was sympathetic to those asylum seekers, but with the city dealing with its own homelessness crisis, those coming in would be left without resources.

“I am concerned that without Federal intervention, our current crisis, which takes our resources to an extreme level, will precipitate a full crisis,” he wrote. “El Cajon is not equipped to be a refugee center.”

In February, the county Board of Supervisors called on the chief administrative officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to develop a plan and identify possible actions to “ensure asylum seekers entering the U.S. will not add to the region’s current homeless crisis.”

“Now, more than ever, we should lead the way in building a just and humane immigration system that rises to meet the challenges of the current situation around the world,” Chairwoman Vargas said in a statement after the February vote.

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