Immigrants denied entry to the US are amassing on the Mexican side of the southern border, preparing for the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that barred migrants from entering the country.
Venezuelan asylum seeker Samuel Guerra told The Post he plans to be among an “avalanche” of immigrants he predicts will enter the US.
He’s currently living in a tent city of mostly Venezuelans half a football field away from El Paso, Texas — with only the Rio Grande and Title 42 standing between him and the US.
A judge federal ended the Trump-era policy — used to kick out over 2.3 million immigrants from the country since its 2020 inception — on Tuesday.
The court gave the federal government a five-week deadline to close it, meaning it will officially end by Dec. 21.
“In December, it’s going to be an avalanche of people; a sea of people,” Guerra told The Post on Thursday night.
A Washington Post report said in March that without Title 42, the Southern border could see as many as 18,000 people cross the border per day — almost triple current levels as people flee failing states in Colombia, Venezuela and other areas of central and South America.
Title 42 was primarily applied to migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but expanded to include Venezuelans earlier this year after they flooded over the border seeking asylum in their thousands. Asylum seekers overwhelmed the border cities where they arrived and shelter systems in the places they were bussed to, including New York.
Guerra said he is braving freezing temperatures and sleeping either outside or in a tent just feet away from where he plans to turn himself in to US Border Patrol agents when Title 42 ends.
“They’re afraid one of us is going to freeze to death,” explained Guerra, adding that a Mexican shelter has offered to let the migrants sleep inside. “I didn’t want to go because I can’t risk leaving here and maybe losing my opportunity to enter the US,” he added.
The US Border Patrol uses Title 42 to expel about 40% of immigrants they encounter on the US southern border, according to figures by US Customs and Border Protection.
“Once Title 42 goes away, it just means we’re going to be releasing even more people into the United States which, of course, just encourages more people to come,” Brandon Judd, the President of the national Border Patrol Union told The Post on Thursday.
Judd fears smuggling organizations in Mexico and other Latin American countries are pouncing on the upcoming deadline to advertise their services to vulnerable immigrants dreaming of making a life in the US.
“Undoubtedly they’re already advertising to those countries, saying, ‘Title 42 is now gone; you’re free to cross,’” Judd said.
President Biden’s administration has yet to announce an alternative to Title 42 to deal with the huge numbers arriving at the US-Mexico border — about 6,500-7,000 people a day, according to Judd.
El Paso, Texas has become the new hot spot with the most border-crossers in the country in October, according to Border Patrol statistics. It is also preparing for the super-sized crowds the end of Title 42 could attract.
“They have already been discussing about the last year, the city and county, about if Title 42 were to be repeated and the plan for it, and I’m sure those conversations are continuing to occur,” El Paso Council Member and Mayor pro tempore Peter Svarzbein told The Post.
Since August, Texas’ sixth largest city has spent almost $9.5 million dollars dealing with the migrant crisis threatening to push city resources to collapse — spending its own taxpayer dollars to feed, shelter and bus immigrants to New York City and Chicago.
The White House has promised to fully reimburse El Paso taxpayers, but so far, only coughed up $2.2 million.
Unwilling to spend more of its own money, El Paso shut down its migrant welcome center and bus program in October. When the federal government asked the city to start up the center again to deal with the new wave of immigrants, El Paso leaders said they needed money from them first.
In the absence of Title 42, Svarzbein believes the Biden administration, not El Paso, needs to come up with a solution.
“The federal government needs to look at enacting realistic and comprehensive immigration reform; that is long overdue,” said Svarzbein.
“All these things need to be addressed and can need to be stopped being kicked down the road.”