Migrants cross Texas border by hundreds with Title 42 lift looming

With more than five weeks still to go before the Biden administration removes the Title 42 health authority over illegal immigrants, new statistics released by border authorities in Texas suggest the long-feared surge of migrants has already begun.

According to the Border Patrol, agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone have encountered 10 large groups (defined by authorities as numbering 100 people or more) in the past week. That number is a third of all the large groups agents in that single sector have come across since October.

One video posted to Instagram by Rio Grande Valley Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings shows a group of 202 illegal immigrants from Central America, South America and the Caribbean being detained near Roma, Texas, at 3 a.m. Thursday. Though the group included family units and unaccompanied minors, just over half its members — 104 in all — were single adults.

Hours later and about 30 miles to the east, another 135 migrants were apprehended near La Grulla. Nearly three-quarters of that group — 101 in all — were single adults and just three were unaccompanied minors. Migrants who took part in the attempted crossing hailed from Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba — and Uzbekistan.

“The logistics required to transport and process groups of this size place a strain on manpower and resources, as they are usually encountered in desolate areas not easily accessible by large transportation vehicles,” the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing border agents, said in a statement Friday.

The numbers from previous days are even more staggering. Last weekend, border agents rounded up four separate large groups totaling 754 people — including 356 adults and 123 unaccompanied children.

Photos of the arrests show dozens and dozens of immigrants outnumbering just a handful of federal agents.

Migrants in a crowd at night
Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings posted images on Twitter of what he described as “two large groups” of migrants.
Twitter / @USBPChiefRGV

The situation is little better in the nearby Del Rio sector.

On April 2 — one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its intention to lift Title 42, which allows border officials to summarily expel illegal immigrants without first hearing their asylum claims on the grounds of public health — US Border Patrol agents discovered a group of 146 migrants near the town of Normandy.

The next day, 140 migrants were found near Normandy, and another 126 were found in that same area the following day.

Two days after that, on April 6, Del Rio sector agents discovered the largest group of the current surge. This one was comprised of 171 migrants, 112 of whom were originally from Cuba and another 24 of whom were from Venezuela. The remainder originated in Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua and Chile.

Border Patrol officials detain migrants at the Texas, Mexico border.
Border Patrol officials detain migrants in Texas.
Twitter / @USBPChiefRGV
Migrants on dirt road.
The groups of migrants were caught near Starr County in Texas.
Twitter / @USBPChiefRGV
A map showing the different Border Patrol sectors.
A map showing the different Border Patrol sectors.
Government Accountability Office

The Border Patrol did not respond to The Post’s request for an explanation of the increase in large groups. In recent years, the months of March, April and May have been a high point for attempted border crossings, and the numbers have surged since President Biden took office in January 2021.

In February of this year, the most recent months for which statistics are available, US Customs and Border Protection reported 164,973 encounters, the highest February number in decades.

But elected officials and local law enforcement have made clear that whether or not there is a direct link between the surge in large groups and Title 42, the lifting of the order will spur many, many more to follow. By one estimate, officials are bracing for an influx of up to 170,000 migrants and up to 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May alone.

“Once word gets back to family that others have made it into the country after May 23, we expect numbers to dramatically increase,” Border Patrol agent Jon Anfinsen told The Post Friday.

In McAllen, Republican Mayor Javier Villalobos pleaded with Biden to keep Title 42 in place this week, warning in a letter that “no amount of preparation will allow for a local government such as the City of McAllen to respond to the dramatic rise of undocumented migration that is anticipated”.

In a separate statement, the city warned that it expects an “incredible increase” in the number of illegal immigrants coming their way.

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