Anticipating the expiration of a Trump administration policy, an estimated 170,000 refugees who have been turned away at the southern U.S. border are poised to try again, creating a “bottleneck” for already overwhelmed immigration officials.
The Trump-era policy allows U.S. Border Patrol agents to deny entry without considering asylum claims to anyone from a country where a communicable disease such as COVID-19 is rampant. The Biden administration plans to end the policy, known as Title 42, as soon as April 1, reported DailyMail.com.
During the presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the policy has been used to turn away more than 1 million asylum seekers.
Intelligence officials told the news site Axios that as many as 170,000 people are waiting to apply for asylum.
Earlier this month, Buzzfeed reported a DHS draft document warned that the pre-pandemic practice of processing immigrants who cross the border illegally through the normal asylum process would “seriously strain” border resources, leading to a humanitarian crisis.
Officials expressed concern about “historically and unseasonably high” numbers of immigrants crossing the border without authorization.
A multi-agency unit from the Departments of State, Justice, Defense and Health and Human Services has been formed to handle the anticipated influx, Axios reported.
The “Southwest Border Mass Irregular Migration Contingency Plan” could include flying migrants to less-congested border crossings, deploying buses from the Bureau of Prisons and setting up large tent bases.
Axis noted the decision regarding when Title 42 ends lies with the Centers for Disease Control. The policy is scheduled to end March 30 unless it is renewed by the CDC.
The White House says it will “continue to defer to the CDC on the use of Title 42 and how long it might remain in effect.”
However, the CDC told DailyMail.com to “reach out to the White House for further information.”
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