New Court Ruling Could Cause Dangerous Overcrowding at Border Facilities, the Biden Administration Warns
The ruling came right before the lifting of the pandemic-era border restrictions on Friday.
A ruling late Thursday night from a federal judge in Florida that temporarily blocks a policy allowing some migrants to be released into the United States without court dates will contribute to crowded conditions that could be dangerous for both border personnel and the migrants themselves, Biden administration officials said.
The ruling comes as thousands of federal employees have been deployed to the border to support the surge of migrants expected after the lifting of Title 42 on Friday. Title 42 had allowed federal officials to turn away most migrants without adjudicating potential asylum claims. Administration officials said on Friday morning that while they continue to see “high levels” of non-citizens at the border, there was not a “substantial increase overnight or an influx” at midnight when the policy was lifted.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on NBC News that the late night court ruling will be “very harmful.” It will “result in unsafe overcrowding in [Customs and Border Protection] facilities and undercut our ability to efficiently process and remove migrants, which will risk creating dangerous conditions for Border Patrol agents as well as non-citizens in our custody,” said Blas Nuñez-Neto, assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at the Homeland Security Department, during a briefing call on Friday. He added that the Justice Department is reviewing the decision closely and to expect additional steps soon.
“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,” CBP officials said in a statement. “Individuals apprehended by CBP are thoroughly vetted against all national security and public safety systems, regardless of how they are processed.”
In contrast, Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said on Fox Business on Friday that he agreed with the Florida judge’s ruling. He said there are other options to mitigate possible surges, such as cutting back on paperwork. “Expect other agencies to actually do their jobs,” he said. “Don’t put all of this on the Border Patrol agents, we’re already overwhelmed.”
Defense Department personnel were also among those sent to the border. When asked on the briefing call if the department would be providing additional personnel, Rebecca Zimmerman, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense integration and defense support of civil authorities, said at this time the department is fulfilling all active requests.
Amid preparations for Title 42 to end, House Republicans passed the “Secure the Border Act” in the late afternoon on Thursday, following criticisms that the Biden administration has an “open border policy,” a point upon which administration officials have pushed back.
If enacted, the bill would force the Biden administration to restart construction of the southern border wall, increase the number of Border Patrol agents and give them bonus pay, and require more transparency from DHS on illegal border crossings.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Thursday, “Instead of coming to the table to work together, House Republicans are playing politics and engaging in stunts that would fail to solve the challenges at our border, while also pushing deep spending cuts that would fire over 2,000 Border Patrol agents and decrease our border security.” She also applauded House Democrats for reintroducing legislation on Biden’s immigration plan.