Migrants Massed in Juarez, Mexico, Anticipating End of Title 42
FAIR Take | April 2023
The Mexican smuggling cartels have had May 11 circled on their calendars for months.
May 11 is to the cartels, what Black Friday is to big box retailers. It is the date when Title 42, the COVID-era public health provision that allows Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to promptly expel illegal border-crossers, will formally end. To the cartels, the termination of Title 42 is a sure-fire marketing tool to drum up new business from untold numbers of people eager for an opportunity to abuse U.S. asylum policies.
Much like a lot of holiday shoppers, many migrants are hoping to beat the May 11 rush and get an early start. Four weeks before Title 42 officially ends, as many as 40,000 migrants are amassed in Juarez, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. Authorities on both sides of the border are concerned that the migrants’ patience and resources are wearing thin and the anticipated chaos will begin earlier than expected.
Over the past several weeks, groups as large as 1,000 migrants have crossed the border and turned themselves in to the Border Patrol in the expectation of being processed and released in the U.S., rather than returned to Mexico. On Monday, a large group of migrants, weary of waiting for the calendar to turn, staged a protest that forced CBP to close the bridge connecting Juarez and El Paso. On Wednesday, Anthony Good, the Border Patrol Chief for the El Paso sector, tweeted “large groups continue to turn themselves in at the border,” accompanied by a video. Good added, “We want to remind migrants that coming into the US between the ports of entry is ILLEGAL & those who do are subject to expulsion or removal.” Neither the migrants nor the cartels seem to be taking that warning seriously.
A similar closure occurred last month in response to a large group of migrants who were “posing a potential threat to make a mass entry.” Many more such closures could be in store in the coming weeks, disrupting legitimate cross-border traffic and commerce. It should be noted that a similar situation will almost certainly be replicated all along the nearly 2,000-mile border.
The Biden administration’s much-hyped tool to meter the influx of migrants seems to be having little effect on making the mass entrance of migrants more orderly. In January, CBP announced the expansion of its CBP One app that allows migrants to schedule an appointment at legal ports of entry, where they are briefly vetted before being allowed to cross the border. But the number of migrants hoping to enter the U.S. vastly exceeds available appointments, resulting in growing bottlenecks.
Not only are the migrants growing frustrated waiting for their CBP One appointments, but the administration’s efforts to control the bad optics of their self-inflicted border crisis do not suit the cartels’ business model. As one unnamed source quoted by the New York Post observed, “The cartels don’t make any money by migrants sitting around waiting for the CBP One appointment.”