President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing for a massive influx of up to 500,000 illegal immigrants monthly once the administration lifts the pandemic-era asylum limits, which is expected to take place on May 23.
DHS officials told reporters on Tuesday that the department is anticipating a worst-case scenario of 12,000 to 18,000 illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border every day, totaling up to 540,000 monthly, CBS News reported.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities near the border are currently able to hold up to 16,000 illegal immigrants each day. Once the asylum limits are lifted, the CBP would need to be able to accommodate up to 30,000 illegal immigrants in U.S. custody daily, according to the DHS preparation plan, dubbed “Southwest Border Strategic Concept of Operations.”
The plan also states that the influx would require an additional 2,500 law enforcement officers, 2,750 support staff and over 1,000 medical personnel at the southern border.
“This is what we do at DHS. We plan for all kinds of contingency events, whether they’re high probability or low probability,” a DHS official said. “We need to be prepared.”
The officials said at the time that they don’t know when the asylum limits, known as Title 42, will be lifted because it is up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We obviously can’t speak on behalf of the CDC and have no real visibility into their processes,” a DHS official said. “We literally have no idea what’s going to happen, much like you, in the coming days.”
“I think it’s unclear what the impact of Title 42’s potential lifting in the coming days, weeks or months would be on migratory flows, but we need to be prepared for what we’re considering a potential contingency, which is that the lifting of Title 42 could increase flows,’” the official added.
The Associated Press reported that people familiar with the matter said the limits would be lifted by May 23.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former DHS official and current Bipartisan Policy Center researcher of migration issues, said the flow of illegal immigrants will cause serious humanitarian issues.
“They’re going to face criticism from people who say, ‘You’re letting everybody into the country,’ or people saying, ‘You’re not providing the processing we want to see.’ If their preparations aren’t sufficient, and the facilities get overwhelmed and there are humanitarian issues or disease outbreaks, it’s going to be a challenge,” Cardinal Brown told CBS News.
In FY21, Biden’s DHS topped 1.73 million illegal immigrant arrests, breaking the previous record from 1986 when officials recorded 1.69 million apprehensions nationwide.