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'Total Chaos' Expected on Southern Border with Title 42 on Track to Expire Wednesday

Migrants wait to get into a U.S. government bus after crossing the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, Dec. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
Migrants wait to get into a U.S. government bus after crossing the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, Dec. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

Officials on the U.S. southern border are bracing for up to 15,000 crossings a day if Title 42 expires as scheduled on Wednesday. 

Title 42 is a Trump-era policy that allows border officials to turn away asylum seekers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

It was enacted at the urging of the CDC. An appeals court blocked a move by 19 Republican-led states to keep it in force. 

"If the courts don't intervene and put a halt to the removal of Title 42, it will be total chaos," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told ABC's This Week program. "Whether it's COVID or some other issue, when you have people coming across the globe without knowing at all what their health status is, that almost by definition is a public health risk. There's every reason to keep that in place."

There have been a record 2.76 million migrant encounters at the border in fiscal 2022, and 2023 is on pace for even more.

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El Paso, Texas has declared an emergency, with officials scrambling to find shelter for thousands of migrants with record winter temperatures forecast for the region in the coming week.

El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D'agostino said, "We saw 2,500 (crossings) in the past six, seven days. We can imagine what it's going to be that's doubling the flow."

Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar warned the White House in a letter that without Title 42, there will be "a complete loss of operational control over the southern border."

"If it goes away, they have to have a policy of an orderly pathway to asylum through our bridges. And if they don't follow that pathway, they need to go back," Cuellar told CBS' Face the Nation program.

READ Secret Government Pathway Allows Thousands of Migrants Instant, Legal Entry into the US

The White House insists there is a "...robust effort underway to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane way when title 42 lifts."

But when asked why Joe Biden has yet to visit the southern border, White House advisor Keisha Lance Bottoms basically said he's too busy.

"When the president travels, it's not like you or I, jumping on an airplane and getting off and going to our destination. Everything comes to a halt. So all of these things are in consideration for the president," she said. 

Migrants who have already made the dangerous journey through Latin America and were expelled under Title 42 are camped across the Mexican border, waiting for Title 42 to expire Wednesday before crossing again. 

The head of the border patrol union is warning that agents who are already overwhelmed by the border crisis, feel "completely defeated" by the ending of Title 42. This year has also seen a spike in suicides by border patrol officers. 

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