Home Emergency El Paso officials say true test of Title 42 end still to...

El Paso officials say true test of Title 42 end still to come

18m ago / 8:44 PM UTC

Mexico to stop granting travel permits to undocumented migrants

Following the end of Title 42, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration will stop granting permits allowing migrants to travel across the country until they reach the northern border with the U.S. unless they have legal documentation, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced in a press conference Friday morning.

The Mexican government also closed 33 centers throughout the country that were used to shelter people who had migrated, according to López Obrador. Mexico was completing a review of the sites following a fire at a center that killed 40 people in the government’s custody.

He also cited figures showing that on Thursday Mexico had deported 942 undocumented migrants, 96% of them Venezuelans, as well as 17 Cubans, 15 Guatemalans and one person from Haiti.

In the hours before Title 42 ended, at least 26,560 undocumented migrants remained along Mexico’s northern border. The majority, about 10,000 migrants, were in Ciudad Juárez; another 7,000 people were in Reynosa and 5,500 were in Matamoros, according to López Obrador.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that the country saw a drop in migrants entering Mexico on Thursday, but did not offer concrete figures.

Click here to follow Noticias Telemundo’s liveblog in Spanish.

31m ago / 8:31 PM UTC

Ruling blocking migrant parole program is “sabotage,” White House says

The White House accused Republicans of “sabotage” and “political play” after a Florida court temporarily blocked the Biden administration from moving forward with parts of its immigration plan.

“It’s sabotage,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a press briefing Friday following the ruling. “It’s pure and simple.”

Jean-Pierre defended the emergency parole program and said the administration would fight the decision, which came ahead of the midnight expiration of Title 42, the pandemic-era immigration measure.

“The claims that CBP is allowing or encouraging mass release of migrants is just categorically false,” she said. “That is not what’s occurring. It is a harmful ruling and the Department of Justice is going to fight it.”

Hours before Title 42 was set to lift, a U.S. district judge in Florida ordered the administration to halt its move to temporarily “parole” migrants awaiting processing after crossing the U.S. border. The decision undercuts the administration’s planning as migrants who have amassed along the southern U.S. border prepare to enter the U.S.

Biden’s press secretary described as “shameful” the Republican officials she said were hampering the White House’s efforts to address the crisis.

“They continue to have political stunts, and they don’t want to solve this problem,” Jean-Pierre said. “What we’re seeing from Republican officials is completely shameful because it’s a political play.”

1h ago / 7:44 PM UTC

Increased water flow at the Rio Grande to pose risk for anyone crossing, El Paso Water warns

Texas public utility company El Paso Water is coordinating with a local nongovernmental organization to warn migrants about the dangers of crossing the Rio Grande.

The river’s currents are expected to worsen in the next several days due to heavy rainfall and an upcoming water release from a nearby dam.

Water from the Caballo Dam, located 100 miles north of El Paso, is set to be released into the Rio Grande today. The water is expected to reach El Paso, along the U.S.-Mexico border, sometime next week.

“The increase of flows could pose a risk for anyone who might be crossing,” a spokesperson for El Paso Water said in a statement. “We want our community and migrants to be aware they may find themselves in danger while trying to cross the river or canals.”

The utility company said it will work with the Hope Border Institute, a faith-based NGO working in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, to distribute flyers to migrant shelters outlining the dangers of the Rio Grande.

The water release happens every year for the irrigation season, which is crucial for so many farmers and communities “as it is one of our main sources of drinking water after it is treated,” the spokesperson added.

2h ago / 7:27 PM UTC

Catholic Charities organize aid to migrants in NYC

Catholic Charities in Brooklyn and Queens are organizing emergency services for new arrivals and their families, according to a press release.

The organization has served around 7,000 asylum seekers and provided 22,000 service units since July 2022, the press release said.

“The new arrivals are leaving horrendous situations in their home countries in search of safety, work, and an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. The parishes are doing an incredible amount of work with us to help them acclimate to New York City and we couldn’t do the work we are doing without them,” said the charities’ CEO Reverend Monsignor Alfred P. LoPinto in the release.

As New York City organizations and city officials work to address the increasing migrant numbers, Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan tweeted that he does not believe alleged city plans to house people in an active public school gym is a solution.

“Yes, this is a humanitarian crisis, and we must move fast & be flexible in accommodating asylees but local reps and most importantly our communities and the asylees themselves deserve notice, clear info, and a plan,” he wrote.

2h ago / 7:15 PM UTC

May 12, 202305:26

2h ago / 6:51 PM UTC

Migrant who died was a 17-year-old Honduran staying at a Florida facility

A 17-year-old migrant from Honduras died in the custody of a Florida facility that was sheltering unaccompanied minors for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to a tweet from the Honduran government and an HHS statement.

He was identified as Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza by the Honduran government. He entered HHS care May 5 and received a clean bill of health, according to a person familiar with the matter. Then on the morning of May 10, he was taken to a nearby hospital where he died, the person familiar said.  

A department spokesperson said the HHS “is deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our heart goes out to the family, with whom we are in touch.” The spokesperson added that officials are “reviewing all clinical details of this case, including all inpatient health care records. A medical examiner investigation is underway.” 

The shelter where Espinoza stayed is in Safety Harbor, Florida, according to the Honduran government. The facility is run by the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services Inc.

2h ago / 6:34 PM UTC

El Paso officials say true test of Title 42’s end still to come

Although there are sighs of relief over the smooth ending of Title 42 last night, El Paso officials said today that the days ahead are the real tests.

Processing of migrants takes longer under Title 8 immigration law, so it is unknown how many people at a time Customs and Border Protection will release and when, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said. Also, an injunction in a lawsuit attempting to keep Title 42 in place is affecting the pace of release of people from CBP custody, he added. CBP has taken about 32,000 people into custody for processing since Tuesday, officials have said.

“It’s the next coming days that will tell how the releases happen, how they are coming into the community and at what rate and what the population truly is,” said Mario D’Agostino, El Paso deputy city manager.

Leeser said the city had 1,800 people released to the El Paso area with about 150 asylum-seekers in shelters. Families are in shelters and single adult men and women are going to hotels.

Migrants wake up at the campsite outside Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso, Texas, on May 9, 2023.
Migrants wake up Tuesday at the campsite outside Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso. Andres Leighton / AP

3h ago / 6:18 PM UTC

Coast Guard says end of Title 42 doesn’t change maritime migration policies

The U.S. maritime borders remain closed, and the end of Title 42 does not change maritime migration policies, the U.S. Coast Guard wrote in a statement.

“Migrants who are interdicted at sea will be immediately repatriated in accordance with policies and plans governing maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea,” Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, said in the statement.

He continued, “Migrants who reach our shores in the United States will be subject to expedited removal, and those who do not qualify for protection will be expeditiously removed with at least a five-year bar on returning to the United States.”

Migrants who arrive by sea can be sent to their country of origin, their country of departure or a third country “in accordance with polices and plans governing maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea,” the Coast Guard statement read.

3h ago / 5:57 PM UTC

A look at scenes from the border

Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border
Migrants at the border in Arizona, Texas and California.Adria Malcolm for NBC News; AP; AFP; Getty Images

3h ago / 5:36 PM UTC

DHS official: No big increase at border right after Title 42 ended

Authorities didn’t see significant changes in migration patterns at the U.S.-Mexico border in the hours after Title 42 was lifted, according to an official from the Department of Homeland Security.

“We continue to encounter high levels of noncitizens at the border but we did not see a substantial increase overnight or an influx at midnight,” Blas Nuñez-Neto, an assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, said during a press conference this morning.

State and Defense department officials also spoke at the press conference.

While it is still early, Nuñez-Neto said, “our focus remains the same, processing people safely and humanely, but now with additional tools.”

According to him, the additional tools will allow immigration authorities to maximize their use of “expedited removal, which of course includes vetting all noncitizens we encounter against national security and public safety systems to ensure that dangerous individuals are detained.”

“There have to be consequences at the border for those who despite having these opportunities to come lawfully, continue to cross unlawfully,” Nuñez-Neto said.

Deportation proceedings to Mexico of non-Mexican citizens at the border are already underway following an agreement between Mexico and the U.S. announced several weeks ago, he said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement will also add thousands of beds to detention facilities, which are no longer performing routine Covid tests on detainees.

People line up as they wait to apply for asylum between two border walls on May 12, 2023, in San Diego.
People line up as they wait to apply for asylum between two border walls Friday in San Diego. Gregory Bull / AP

4h ago / 5:13 PM UTC

An unaccompanied migrant child has died, agency says

An unaccompanied migrant child who was in the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has died, according to the agency.

The department said in a statement today that it was “deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our heart goes out to the family, with whom we are in touch.”

It did not provide any details, including how and where the child died.

“A medical examiner investigation is underway,” the agency said, adding that because of privacy and safety reasons, the Office of Refugee Resettlement “cannot share further information on individual cases of children who have been in our care.”

4h ago / 4:58 PM UTC

El Paso residents share differing views on border arrivals

EL PASO, Texas — Real estate developer Tanny Berg doesn’t see chaos and danger when he looks at the lines of people who have come to the border as the United States makes a shift in how it manages immigration.

Instead, according to him, he sees history, the reality of a border city, a broken immigration system and desperate people used as scapegoats in a politically polarized world.

“We’re accustomed in this area to migration, people coming north from Mexico. We all trace our history … that’s how people got here,” said Berg, 74, a lifetime resident of the border city and a past president of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.

May 12, 202301:12

But not everyone in the border city holds the same view.

Read more of the story here.

4h ago / 4:35 PM UTC

Durbin calls for collaboration in handling incoming migrants

In a news conference today, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called for bipartisan congressional action to change immigration laws.

“This is a very real situation that can be dealt with only if Congress rolls up its sleeves on a bipartisan basis and says we’re going to change the law and make sense out of it,” he said.

Durbin said he has talked about the migrant situation with incoming Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who will be sworn into office Monday.

“I know he genuinely cares and wants to respond. I want to help him,” Durbin said. “But this is a situation where all of us have to pitch in to deal with the national emergency.”

He also said that the Illinois Farm Bureau has been “begging for help” for workers.

“They need workers, immigrant workers on the orchards, on the dairy farms and the regular farm operations,” Durbin said, noting that Congress has outdated immigration laws that do not reflect the current size of the economy and need for workers.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has sent buses of migrants to Chicago, prompting a late-April letter by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot asking him to stop, saying the city has no more shelters or resources to accommodate migrants.

5h ago / 4:14 PM UTC

DeSantis criticizes Mexican president after signing immigration crackdown

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chastised Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador today, a day after signing a sweeping immigration crackdown into law.

“You have this Mexican president. He’s criticizing Florida for enacting laws against illegal immigration. It’s like he’s got a disaster on his hands. He’s got cartels that are totally out of control that are running his country,” the Republican governor told reporters in Fort Myers. “The millions of people coming into our country, they’re all going through his country.”

DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for the GOP presidential nomination, regularly assails migration from Mexico and frequently attacks the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

The new immigration law in Florida bans local governments from issuing identification cards for people who cannot prove citizenship and bars undocumented law school graduates from being admitted to the state bar, among other provisions.

5h ago / 3:50 PM UTC

Mexico’s foreign minister: U.S. is “doing its part” with online app

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said today that the U.S. has granted 100,000 visas to migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti through the CBP One application.

He said that the U.S. is “doing its part” through the online app and announced that another 100,000 appointments have been opened for Central American citizens through the app.

“Another 100,000 are now open for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador; then we will be reporting how it progresses,” Ebrard said at the daily news conference of the Mexican government.

The CBP One app was released by Customs and Border Protection on Oct. 28, 2020.

In May, the government launched a new version of the CBP One application so that migrants can register to request asylum in the United States after the end of Title 42.

However, there have been complaints that the mobile app is not easily accessed and doesn’t always work when people try to use it.

In March, the Mexican government announced that it was authorizing the passage of migrants who have an appointment confirmed by Customs and Border Protection.

In a statement, Mexico’s migration institute, INM, indicated that “it allows the use of Mexican territory for the transit of foreign persons” originating from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua who have an application to enter the U.S. previously accepted by CBP.

5h ago / 3:47 PM UTC

May 12, 202303:13

6h ago / 3:24 PM UTC

10,000 apprehended crossing the border yesterday

More than 10,000 migrants were apprehended crossing the border yesterday, according to two Homeland Security officials. That figure is lower than the 11,000 apprehended each day on Tuesday and Wednesday. The number also doesn’t reflect any activity after Title 42 lifted last night.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz previously said that it would be problematic if that number rose to 13,000 or 14,000.

U.S. Border Patrol agents talk with women before leading them to a van as they wait to apply for asylum between two border walls on May 11, 2023, in San Diego.
U.S. Border Patrol agents talk with women before leading them to a van as they wait to apply for asylum between two border walls yesterday in San Diego. Gregory Bull / AP

6h ago / 2:48 PM UTC

Global refugee organizations express concern over Title 42’s end

The United Nations refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration are concerned about restrictions on asylum access as Title 42 lifts, they wrote in a joint statement.

“UNHCR and IOM welcome positive initiatives to expand resettlement and other regular pathways in the region, but are concerned about new restrictions on access to asylum following the long overdue lifting of the Title 42 public health order by the United States,” they wrote.

The organizations emphasized that expansion of regular pathways does not replace countries’ responsibilities to asylum procedures to migrants.

A migrant gestures to the Texas National Guard standing behind razor wire yesterday on the bank of the Rio Grande.Fernando Llano / AP

“Barriers preventing people from exercising the fundamental human right to seek asylum are unacceptable and contrary to States’ international obligations,” they wrote. “The new US Government Rule that restricts access for asylum-seekers who arrive irregularly after transiting through another country is incompatible with principles of international refugee law.”

7h ago / 2:28 PM UTC

May 12, 202303:47

7h ago / 1:56 PM UTC

Rain, storms could create treacherous conditions for migrants trying to cross Rio Grande

In an alert early today, National Weather Service forecasters said “excessive rainfall” could deluge a swath of Texas, from the Rio Grande Plain to the Gulf Coast — which could worsen conditions for migrants attempting to cross into the U.S.

The weather service’s real-time forecasting map showed that flash flood watches were in place for nearly all of south Texas. The map included a stark warning for motorists near the Rio Grande region: “Turn Around Don’t Drown.”

Forecasters said that the chances of heavy showers and thunderstorms will increase starting this afternoon and “linger through the weekend across Deep South Texas.” The heaviest rainfall is expected to arrive tomorrow into Sunday, they said.

Officials and law enforcement officers in Texas were already preparing for water to be released from the Caballo Dam, 100 miles north of El Paso, into the Rio Grande, which flows through the southwestern U.S. into northern Mexico.

Migrants make their way across the Rio Grande on May 11, 2023 in Matamoros, Mexico.
Migrants make their way across the Rio Grande yesterday in Matamoros, Mexico. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

7h ago / 1:34 PM UTC

CBP says it will comply with judge’s ‘harmful’ order

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it will comply with a judge’s order to halt the implementation of a new policy that would ease overcrowding at detention facilities by allowing some vetted migrants into the U.S. without a court date or a way to track them.

The agency said in a statement that it is “assessing next steps.” It called the ruling by the federal judge in Florida a “harmful” one that “will result in unsafe overcrowding” at facilities, undercut the agency’s ability to efficiently process and remove migrants, and risk creating dangerous conditions for migrants and Border Patrol agents.

The order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET yesterday and expires in two weeks. It came after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an emergency motion to stop the policy, which would release some migrants on “parole” with a notice to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office but without enrolling them in the program.

NBC News first reported the plan Wednesday. 

“The fact remains that when overcrowding has occurred in Border Patrol facilities, Republican and Democratic Administrations alike have used this parole authority to protect the safety and security of migrants and the workforce,” the agency said. “Individuals apprehended by CBP are thoroughly vetted against all national security and public safety systems, regardless of how they are processed.”

Asylum-seekers are processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing into Yuma, Ariz., on May 11, 2023.
Asylum-seekers are processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents yesterday after crossing into Yuma, Ariz.Mario Tama / Getty Images

8h ago / 1:25 PM UTC

Water to be released into Rio Grande, raising safety concerns for migrants

Officials and law enforcement officers in Texas are preparing for water to be released from the Caballo Dam, 100 miles north of El Paso, into the Rio Grande, which flows through the southwestern U.S. into northern Mexico.

Water will be released today and could reach El Paso, along the U.S.-Mexico border, by next week, according to the International Boundary and Water Commission, which coordinates with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

It was not immediately clear how much water will be released.

To address safety concerns, law enforcement officials are erecting barbed wire near the river to prevent migrants from trying to swim into the U.S.

Covid-era rules that have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from claiming asylum at the southern US border expired early on May 11, 2023, creating uncertainty for migrants and setting off a political firestorm.
Migrants wait to surrender to Border Patrol agents upon crossing the Rio Grande on the border in El Paso.Patrick T. Fallon / AFP – Getty Images

“We’re telling them in Spanish this is not an area to cross,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “It’s very dangerous. If you’re going to seek asylum, go to the ports of entry, where it’s much safer and it’s much more controlled.”

El Paso Water, a nonprofit public utility, said it has been informed of the plan and is working to partner with local organizations to inform migrants and asylum-seekers of the dangers of trying to swim across the river.

“In the past, EPWater worked with a local non-profit organization that handed out flyers at shelters in Juarez, warning migrants about the dangers of the river when water is flowing,” the utility said in a statement. “We are currently exploring the same option ahead of the water release in the next week.”

8h ago / 12:58 PM UTC

Mayorkas pushes back on criticisms of the admin’s planning for Title 42’s end

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas today defended the administration’s handling of the end of Title 42 and blamed Congress for not providing it with more resources or advancing Biden’s immigration proposals over the last two years.

In an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, he criticized a judge’s order last night temporarily blocking the administration’s effort to ease overcrowding at detention facilities by allowing some vetted migrants into the U.S. without a court date or a way to track them.

May 12, 202309:04

“We consider that ruling to be very harmful,” Mayorkas said. “The procedure that we were executing is something that other administrations have done. These individuals are screened and vetted, and then they are released and then placed into immigration enforcement proceedings. The Department of Justice is of course considering its options with respect the court’s ruling.”

The homeland security secretary also defended the administration’s efforts to severely restrict asylum for migrants who haven’t sought or have been denied protection in other countries before they reach the U.S.

“We have built lawful safe and orderly pathways for people to use,” Mayorkas said, adding that if asylum-seekers don’t adhere to those pathways, they don’t face a ban but “have a higher burden of proof to meet.”

“We have a security obligation and a humanitarian obligation to cut the ruthless smugglers out,” he continued. “We are going to deliver consequences for people who don’t use [lawful] pathways.”

Asked by co-anchor Savannah Guthrie if President Joe Biden bears blame for the situation at the border, Mayorkas said: “The fundamental point is that we need Congress to act. The president on Day One presented Congress with legislative reform. Our system has been broken for more than two decades. It’s time not to criticize. It’s time to act.”

8h ago / 12:58 PM UTC

Migrants wait for chance to enter U.S. after end of pandemic-era restrictions

Title 42 expires
Adria Malcolm for NBC News

EL PASO, Texas — Cheers and applause broke out as migrants prepared to cross the border into El Paso, hours after the lifting of pandemic-era restrictions today.

Once across, men and women, some in hoodies and sweaters to guard against the chilly desert night air, walked in single file to a U.S. Border Patrol van. A man and woman held hands, the woman covering her nose and mouth with her sleeve as dust filled the air.

Dozens of migrants had already boarded three white school buses in small groups, flanked by members of the National Guard and Border Patrol in green and camouflage uniforms.

After the van left, border authorities closed the outermost chain link fence and sealed it with a heavy lock.

Read the full story here.

8h ago / 12:58 PM UTC

May 12, 202303:38

8h ago / 12:58 PM UTC

ACLU sues Biden admin over asylum policy

The American Civil Liberties Union and several immigration advocacy groups are challenging the Biden administration’s new policy of limiting asylum for people who cross the border without prior authorization.

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California less than an hour after Title 42 expired argues that the updated immigration policy mirrors two Trump-era policies that were previously blocked by the courts. It prohibits asylum for migrants who traveled to the U.S. through third countries and did not obtain protections before arriving at the border.

Image: Migrant Crossings At Southern Border Increase As Title 42 Policy Expires
Texas National Guard soldiers at a camp for migrants in El Paso yesterday.John Moore / Getty Images

“The Biden administration’s new ban places vulnerable asylum seekers in grave danger and violates U.S. asylum laws. We’ve been down this road before with Trump,” Katrina Eiland, managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “The asylum bans were cruel and illegal then, and nothing has changed now.”

The filing argues that the Biden administration cannot restrict access to asylum based on how someone arrived at the border and that migrants often lack the ability to seek protections while in transit.

The challenge was filed on behalf of the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, American Gateways, the Central American Resource Center, the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Tahirih Justice Center.

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