A congressman representing a key border district is warning that the end of the use of Title 42 to expel migrants at the southern border later this month is set to unleash a “hurricane” of migration — and dismissing claims by the Biden administration that it has a plan in place to cope.
“I don’t know what plan in place they are talking about. I represent 42% of the southern border and everyone in my district is essentially ‘batten down the hatches’ waiting for this hurricane to hit,” Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital in an interview.
Gonzales says that Border Patrol have let officials in Uvalde know that they will start dropping off 150 illegal immigrants a day.
“Their plan is essentially to let them know that this is happening,” he said.
OVER 73,000 GOTAWAYS AT SOUTHERN BORDER IN NOVEMBER, HIGHEST EVER RECORDED
A federal judge last month ordered the end of Title 42, which has been used since March 2020 to quickly expel migrants at the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after he ruled it unlawful. The judge granted a five-week period for DHS to prepare — which expires on Dec. 21.
It has renewed fears similar to those when DHS tried to unwind the order back in April, that DHS is not prepared for an expected increase in migration. That concern has crossed party lines, with a number of Democrats expressing their concerns to the administration.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said that DHS has a plan in place to cope with the surge.
“What we are doing is precisely what we announced we would do in April of this year, and we have indeed been executing on the plan,” he said at a hearing last month.
SOUTHERN BORDER SECTOR SEES MASSIVE SPIKE IN ILLEGAL MIGRANT ENCOUNTERS AS TITLE 42’S END APPROACHES
That plan, he said, includes surging personnel, technology and other resources to the border and increasing processing efficiency “to mitigate potential overcrowding.” Additionally, Mayorkas says the administration will focus on increasing consequences for illegal entry. Currently, under Title 42, most migrants who are removed are expelled without any prosecution or punishment.
“We are enhancing the consequences for unlawful entry, especially with respect to individuals who seek to evade law enforcement, including removal, detention and criminal prosecution when warranted,” he said.
That’s in addition to DHS efforts to bolster the capacity of non-profits as well as continuing to target smuggling organizations and working with Western Hemisphere countries to discourage illegal migration throughout the region.
MAYORKAS MAINTAINS DHS HAS A PLAN FOR TITLE 42’S END, DESPITE FEARS OF A NEW MIGRANT WAVE
But it has done little to assuage concerns, given the already high number of migrant crossings at the border, which shot up to a record 2.3 million in FY 2022 and is on track so far to be even higher in FY 2023.
Fox reported this week that the El Paso Sector has seen a 257% increase in migration compared to last year, and that “gotaways” across the border hit over 73,000 in November — believed to be the highest ever recorded.
Gonzales said that migrants are already gathering at the southern border, waiting for the moment Title 42 drops.
“In El Paso, you’ve got thousands of migrants literally camping out on the Mexican side, circling the calendar for this date to go,” he said. “So if that’s the plan, I can tell you right now it’s a failed plan. And it reminds me a lot of the Afghanistan withdrawal policy that got 13 Americans killed.”
Gonzales says he wants to see a plan that focuses on enforcing the laws already in place.
“I think it’s pretty damn simple. It’s enforce the laws that are already on the books, and I’ll break it down even further. I’m looking for expanding repatriation flights. And it’s not only me, its any border expert will tell you if you expand repatriation flights, that will stop the illegal immigration flow to that sector.”
He also calls for the establishing of temporary immigration courts at the border, something that has been set up during past administrations to get court cases heard in days at the border.
Gonzales said he is hoping to find solutions. He spoke recently to acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Troy Miller and had a “good conversation” and are hoping to set up a bipartisan group to sit down and find solutions.
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He pointed to the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, which he is signed onto that also has support from Democrats including Rep. Henry Cuellar, R-Texas, and Sen. Mark Kelly, R-Arizona, which would establish regional processing centers along the border.
“So there are solutions out there. We just need the administration to wake up and actually be willing to listen to some of those who live it every day,” he said.
Gonzales also pointed to a spate in Border Patrol suicides as well as migrant deaths at the border as indicators of how to measure the crisis.
“How many migrants have died? How many Americans have died? That number is only increasing and it’s dangerous,” he said.