An already chaotic situation at the southern border worsened after the Supreme Court paused the lifting of Title 42, the Trump-era policy put into place to mitigate the spread of COVID during the pandemic, as the number of migrants expecting to gain entry into the country continues to dramatically increase, overwhelming shelters in El Paso, Texas where temperatures have dropped into the low 30s in recent days.
On Monday, Chief Justice John Roberts paused a lower court order ending the expulsions of illegal immigrants under Title 42 that was set to go into effect on Wednesday, leaving thousands in limbo as the ongoing drama plays out in the courts, at least temporarily halting a situation that Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned would be “total chaos” if the floodgates are opened and the advancing hordes overwhelm the ability to process them.
MSNBC had boots on the ground in El Paso where NBC News’s Homeland Security correspondent Julia Ainsley updated anchor Andrea Mitchell on the burgeoning humanitarian catastrophe where migrants have been crossing over into the United States by just walking in with “no interaction” with immigration authorities.
After first discussing the uncertainty of Justice Roberts’ stay and how long it will be until Title 42 is officially lifted, she turned to the dilemma of those who wait for a resolution.
“These families behind me here. These are some of the lucky ones who were inside a shelter, but a lot of shelters are overwhelmed,” Ainsley said. “I just came from the streets this morning. There are hundreds of people sleeping in the airports, at bus stations, on the streets. And it’s actually really cold here. It was 33 degrees and we woke up this morning. Migrants were huddling together under blankets for warmth because even though Title 42 hasn’t lifted yet, so many people have been able to come across.”
“Not every nationality gets expelled. But we just spoke to people at this shelter here. Ruben Garcia, who runs this shelter, who says, look, already there are people sleeping on the streets. The numbers that will be sleeping on the streets if Title 42 lifts is unfathomable and he says the federal government will have to do more,” she continued.
Mitchell responded, “And if Title 42 is lifted, officials say there’ll be a record number of 10,000 unauthorized border crossings per day. So what is the long-term solution? I mean, you’ve talked to officials down there that they’ve ramped up, but they can’t possibly handle that.”
“That’s right. It’s really just a numbers game, Andrea. And for a while, yes, we’ve been looking at maybe 10,000 a day across the border, but I think it might even be higher than that now that I’ve been able to get down on the ground and talk to people we’re talking about just here in El Paso, numbers could be as high as 5 to 6,000 a day,” Ainsley replied.
“This is just one small section of the border. So they’re worried that they could be completely overwhelmed and not be able to meet people’s basic human needs,” she added. “Officials have ramped up processing, but we were even able to see as of last night, a lot of migrants just crossing and migrants I spoke to this morning saying they haven’t had any interaction with U.S. immigration authorities. They just walked right in.”
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