FAIR at the Border: As Title 42 Came to an End, FAIR was There to Provide Firsthand Accounts of the Chaos
In the days leading up to the termination of Title 42 on May 11, FAIR sent a team to the border to gather and record information about what was transpiring and report to the American public. Title 42 is a public health provision that was invoked in 2020 at the onset of the COVID pandemic. The provision allowed Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to promptly expel migrants who illegally crossed the border.
With the end of the COVID public health emergency also came an end to the use of Title 42. Having already defied statutory requirements to secure our borders, Joe Biden canceled other policies that deter illegal aliens from entering the country. Title 42 was the last mechanism in place allowing for the prompt removal of those who do enter. Predictably, the response to the cancelation of Title 42 saw an even greater surge of illegal migration, with more than 10,000 illegal aliens crossing the border every day during the week leading to May 11.
With a few notable exceptions, the so-called mainstream media largely ignored the raging border crisis, covering it only when there were allegations (nearly all false) of the mistreatment of migrants. Against that backdrop, FAIR sent three senior staffers to El Paso, Texas – the highest traffic area for illegal migration – to provide timely and accurate information about what was happening.
Here’s what we saw and documented:
The Border Patrol was opening gates in the border wall and allowing large groups of migrants to enter. Over the course of three days along the border near El Paso, we observed the execution of Biden administration policies to allow migrants to enter under the president’s expansive use of parole authority, rather than have them cross the Rio Grande. This phenomenon is consistent with the administration’s efforts to remove the bad optics of people coming across the river illegally and have them come through gates in the border security wall.
On several occasions, we witnessed motorcades of buses and vans arrive at designated gates in the border wall. Using a camera-equipped drone, we were able to see hundreds of people on the other side of the fence – lines that stretched for as much as a quarter mile – poised to enter the United States. Once the transportation was in place, the gates opened and migrants filed into the buses and vans to be taken to a processing center and released on parole. We also witnessed the presence of some of the 1,500 troops that President Biden dispatched to the border. It was quickly evident that the role of the federal troops was not to prevent illegal aliens from entering, but rather to assist in transporting and processing them.
Most of the migrants who were allowed to enter through the gates will not have a court date to press their claims for asylum for many years to come – some, well into the 2030s. It is reasonable to believe that what we saw near El Paso was being replicated at many other points along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A significant section of downtown El Paso has been turned into a migrant encampment. After being released from CBP custody, the next stop for many migrants is the Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso. With limited space inside the church, large groups sleep on the sidewalks and alleyways near the church in makeshift tents, and in unsanitary conditions, while they await transportation to their final destination in the United States. A charter bus depot, less than a block from the church, is the primary means by which the migrants move out of town. However, the number of migrants far exceeds the availability of buses, and so many migrants wait for days, even weeks, for a space to open up.
The “asylum seekers” we observed were overwhelmingly young, working-age men, in their teens and twenties, and disproportionally Venezuelan nationals. The migrants we spoke with were nearly all clutching their prized packet of documents handed to them during the processing procedure they went through upon entering the country. These “Welcome to the United States” packets included a Notice to Appear in court at some future date, and paperwork to demonstrate that they had been paroled into the country. Given the small number of women and families with children, it is a reasonable assumption that most were economic migrants taking advantage of our asylum policies.
How FAIR disseminated the information we gathered. The purpose of going to the border was to provide valuable information to the American public that many major news outlets were ignoring. During our time in El Paso, FAIR appeared on 34 talk radio shows around the country detailing what we witnessed. We also conducted three national and international television interviews.
FAIR also utilized our far-reaching social media platforms. Videos that were quickly edited and prepared for air were posted on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. These videos received hundreds of thousands of views and were widely shared by social media users.
As a 501(c)(3) public interest organization, FAIR’s primary mission is to educate the American public about immigration matters. Our presence at the border gathering information, and our ability to reach millions of Americans with that information, is how FAIR helps shape public opinion on immigration policy matters.