The United States on Friday ended a COVID-19 border restriction that had blocked many migrants at the border with Mexico, triggering a scramble to enter during the night that had evaporated by sunrise.
A holding area by the border wall outside Yuma, Arizona, that was filled with lines of migrants on Thursday night was empty at dawn.
The only reminder of a surge in arrivals as the clock ticked down to the Title 42 deadline was a dumpster filled with discarded water bottles and a mess of footprints in the sand.
Local officials said everyone — from Border Patrol agents to migrants and the cartels that control people smuggling operations — was trying to understand what came next after the end of Title 42 and the introduction of slew of new regulations.
‘I anticipate that people are still trying to figure out what this means and how this will play out,’ said Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines.
This was the scene on Friday morning close to the border wall outside Yuma, Arizona. It was deserted. Some 24 hours earlier the line of migrants waiting to be process was 300-strong
Predictions of chaos also failed to come true in other border cities, such as El Paso, Texas.
However, that does not mean the crisis is over. Days of surging migration have pushed holding facilities way beyond capacity.
Officials told DailyMail.com that border detention facilities have maxed-out holding as many as 28,000 people as numbers detained at the border surpassed 10,000 a day.
Border cities say they cannot keep with processing arrivals, screening them and allocating court dates for their asylum claims to be heard.
The city of Yuma was preparing to release more than 140 migrants on to the city’s streets on Friday in order to relieve pressure on the processing system — the first such releases in two years.
Thursday night brought a fresh surge in arrivals on the Arizona border. A big group of Peruvians rounded the edge of the border wall with an hour to spare before the end of Title 42.
They were followed 45 minutes later by another big group. They included dozens of young men at Senegal who arrived at a run.
Even after Title 42 expired, they kept trickling in. At one point more than 200 people were waiting to be processed.
The end of Title 42 brought a surge in arrivals on Thursday night as the clock ticked towards midnight eastern time. Senegalese, Mauritanians and Peruvians were among two big groups that got in just under the wire in Yuma country. Dozens more trickled in
A couple with a young baby clambered up a levee as they arrived on U.S. soil on Thursday
The arrivals have put unprecedented pressure on Yuma’s facilities. The city is expected to release more than 140 migrants who haven’t been processed on Friday
Unofficial numbers put the number of detentions at 1500 for the day, the highest in recent weeks.
Doom mongers had warned that things would only get worse on Friday. But the arrivals dried up in several sectors.
Chris Clem, the former Yuma Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent, said it was too early to celebrate.
‘The administration I’m sure they are working feverishly behind the scenes with Mexico. I’m sure they’re doing a lot of things to manage this,’ he said
‘And I do believe the will control things and will play things out.
‘Then the migrants may be you know, trying to figure it out. Do they want to get caught up in the rush? Do they want to wait a few days and see how things play out?’
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained Thursday that the end of Title 42 meant migrants would now be processed under Title 8
Either way, he said there was no getting away from the fact that the numbers in border facilities were at the highest he could remember.
Title 42 was activated by the Trump administration to stem the spread of COVID-19. It is a public health measure that allows border authorities to immediately expel arrivals before they could even claim asylum.
But with the pandemic over, it finally expired at midnight eastern time on Thursday.
The Biden administration rushed through new restrictions, effectively restoring Trump’s ‘transit ban,’ which allows for the deportation of arrivals who did not seek asylum in countries through which they traveled.
Migrants can legally present themselves at the border if they used a mobile app, CBP One, to register in advance.
But there were snags. An eleventh hour legal challenge blocked plans to more quickly release migrants from Border Patrol detention.
Administration officials also said it was too early to declare victory.
‘Overnight, we saw similar patterns to what we’ve seen over the past several days. We continue to encounter high levels of non-citizens at the border but we did not see a substantial increase overnight or an influx at midnight,’ Blas Nuñez-Neto, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, told reporters on a briefing call.
‘It is still early, however, and our focus remains the same: processing people safely and humanely, but now with additional tools for us to deliver consequences quickly.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk