Biden’s welcome mat for immigrants: Federal authorities build sprawling tent city outside El Paso

A huge ‘tent city’ for migrants entering the US from Mexico is under construction on the fringes of El Paso as officials scramble to prepare for a surge in crossings when Title 42 ends.

The massive processing facility, which covers an area the size of several football fields, is being built in a patch of desert about 20 miles northeast of downtown El Paso.

Trucks carrying equipment and machinery have been making regular deliveries to the site in recent days.

In a sign of the uncertainty around whether Title 42 will end, security guards told DailyMail.com the facility could be in place for ‘a few weeks or six months, we don’t know’.

Sources also said the site isn’t expected to be ready until around January 10 – even though Title 42 will end as soon as midnight on Tuesday.

The huge migrant facility being built on the fringes of El Paso, Texas, as Title 42 is set to end as soon as midnight on Tuesday

The huge migrant facility being built on the fringes of El Paso, Texas, as Title 42 is set to end as soon as midnight on Tuesday  

Migrants gathered on buses to ship out of El Paso, Texas, on December 26

Migrants gathered on buses to ship out of El Paso, Texas, on December 26

Workmen on Tuesday morning were completing the main, soft-side tent which runs the length of around two football fields. Other tents were also under construction around the main structure.

The speed and scale of the operation reveals the massive steps border patrol authorities are taking to prevent chaos when Title 42 ends.

Several more of the facilities could also be constructed around El Paso in the coming days and weeks.

Around the site, rows of shipping containers and makeshift offices were set up for workers and managers to coordinate the rapid construction operation.

Wheel loaders and other heavy machinery have been preparing the land, which is just off a section of the US-54 highway near the neighborhood of Mesquite Hills. A huge perimeter fence was also being built around the facility.

The area is being closely watched by guards who said they hadn’t been told exact details of what’s going on at the site. One said they were old told they’d be covering a security job – but bosses have remained tight-lipped about the work that’s taking place.

The site could be open ‘for a few weeks or six months – we don’t know’, one guard said.

Title 42, which enables border agents to turn asylum-seekers away upon contact in the name of slowing the spread of COVID-19, was set to expire last week but was extended at the 11th hour by an administrative stay from Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

The Supreme Court has set the Trump-era border order Title 42 to end at 11.59 pm on Tuesday night unless they issue another ruling, which they could sometime today. 

Border patrol officers on the southern border of the United States recorded 233,740 illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico in November- a 33 percent increase from 2021

Border patrol officers on the southern border of the United States recorded 233,740 illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico in November- a 33 percent increase from 2021

Workers are rushing to finish the migrant 'tent city' being constructed on the outskirts of El Paso

Workers are rushing to finish the migrant ‘tent city’ being constructed on the outskirts of El Paso

Trucks carrying equipment and machinery have been making regular deliveries to the El Paso site in recent days

Trucks carrying equipment and machinery have been making regular deliveries to the El Paso site in recent days

Workers near the Texas border are preparing the enormous facility for an influx of immigrants as Title 42 is due to end on Tuesday night at midnight

Workers near the Texas border are preparing the enormous facility for an influx of immigrants as Title 42 is due to end on Tuesday night at midnight

As work was underway to build the facilities required to handle the influx, hundreds of migrants were camped on the streets of El Paso after successfully crossing the border in recent weeks. They are now in limbo, and many were awaiting buses to other US cities.

Many of the groups were young families with small children, wrapped up against the below-freezing overnight temperatures which have hit the city.

The American Red Cross was handing out blankets and supplies overnight. Churches in the city have been offering shelter to migrants.

Last Tuesday, more than 400 National Guard troops were deployed at the border around El Paso, where they installed more than two miles of fencing.

Officials estimate around 22,000 migrants are camped across three cities in northern Mexico as they await the Title 42 decision.

A security guard told the Daily Mail the site could be open ‘for a few weeks or six months - we don’t know’

A security guard told the Daily Mail the site could be open ‘for a few weeks or six months – we don’t know’

The site was a hive of activity on Tuesday - hours before the Trump-era Title 42 ruling is due to end

The site was a hive of activity on Tuesday – hours before the Trump-era Title 42 ruling is due to end 

Officials told DailyMail.com that border agents have encountered around 1,500 migrants per day attempting to enter the US across the last week.

That figure is slightly lower than earlier in December, before the plans to end Title 42 were put on hold.

Experts say daily crossing could rise to 6,000 per days once Title 42 ends.

But the numbers were already high, with the Department of Homeland Security announcing on Friday that border patrol officers on the southern border caught a record 233,740 illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico last month. 

When broken down, the data reveals significant surges of migrants from Nicaragua and Cuba which offset drops in Venezuelans at the border. 

Cubans, who are leaving the island nation in their largest numbers in six decades, were stopped 34,675 times at the U.S. border with Mexico in November, up 21 percent from 28,848 times in October.

Nicaraguans were stopped 34,209 times, up 65 percent from 20,920 in October – explaining why El Paso, Texas, has become the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.

Overall, Customs and Border Protection tallied 233,740 migrant encounters, up 1 percent from 231,294 in October. Mexicans were the largest nationality, followed by Cubans and Nicaraguans. 

Ecuadoreans were stopped 11,831 times, up 68 percent from 7,031 times.

Venezuelans were seen far less after Mexico agreed on October 12 to begin accepting those expelled from the United States under Title 42. They were stopped 7,931 times, down 64 percent from 22,045 in October.

The snapshot is the latest detailed account of who is crossing the border from Mexico amid preparations to end a Trump-era asylum ban.  It marked the third-highest monthly count of Joe Biden’s presidency and a 33 percent increase from last November.

 The number of children traveling alone also rose, as did those traveling as families.

Around 400 people are pictured at the Arizona/Mexico border with the surge in numbers  attributed to the supposed lifting of title 42 which the Supreme Court has delayed until later this month

Around 400 people are pictured at the Arizona/Mexico border with the surge in numbers  attributed to the supposed lifting of title 42 which the Supreme Court has delayed until later this month

Large numbers of migrants continue to cross illegally into the United States with the Yuma, Arizona seeing a spike in numbers

Large numbers of migrants continue to cross illegally into the United States with the Yuma, Arizona seeing a spike in numbers

Now, Texas Representative-elect Monica De La Cruz is urging President Joe Biden to take action as she demands a bipartisan solution to secure the border.

In a letter exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com, De La Cruz, 48, wrote that Title 42 is the ‘last meaningful measure your administration has in place to prevent a complete humanitarian and national security disaster along our southern border.’

‘We must implement a real plan to deal with the massive number of migrants that are now on their way to the United States,’ De La Cruz continued, in a letter making it clear she is looking to secure her spot as a top border hawk in Congress. 

She wrote: ‘Local communities do not have the resources needed to protect public safety or to house illegal immigrants for any sustained period.’

‘Our local communities need funds to deal with the immediate crisis on the ground, but also need a concrete course of action to stop the flow long-term.

‘It is evident that your administration is intent on ending Title 42, but it is important that you listen to local leaders in our borderlands and understand the real cost in terms of lives, property damage, and government expenses that this crisis is imposing on our communities,’ she added.

‘Therefore, I ask that you maintain Title 42 protections at our border until your administration adopts and implements policies that are proven to reduce the flow of illegal immigration, places the vast majority of Border Patrol agents on the line rather than in processing duties, and offers relief for our communities from the current crisis.’

Monica De La Cruz, pictured with her two children, will be the first Republican ever to represent Texas' 15th congressional district, which includes a portion of the southern border with Mexico

Monica De La Cruz, pictured with her two children, will be the first Republican ever to represent Texas’ 15th congressional district, which includes a portion of the southern border with Mexico 

A migrant girl holds a Christmas present, as she queues with her family near the border wall to request asylum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 25, 2022

A migrant girl holds a Christmas present, as she queues with her family near the border wall to request asylum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 25, 2022

Migrants, mostly from Venezuela, rest during a night of low temperatures in downtown El Paso, Texas, U.S., December 23, 2022

Migrants, mostly from Venezuela, rest during a night of low temperatures in downtown El Paso, Texas, U.S., December 23, 2022

The newly-elected Republican also told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview last week that she thinks Biden’s migration policies are a ‘joke’ and claimed that the president could not know how to tackle the crisis without visiting the border himself — something he has failed to do in his nearly two years in office.

‘Joe Biden has never even come down to our southern border,’ the incoming congresswoman lamented. ‘He has not talked to our RGV [Rio Grande Valley] sector agents, to find out what it is that they need, and what they recommend as being the front line on this out-of-control border crisis.’ 

She dismissed the online application process idea, claiming there’s no shot it would work for any legitimate asylum-seekers who are fleeing violence or persecution.

‘When you’re talking about this online application – these immigrants who are traveling over here are traveling with a backpack and a tent,’ she explained. ‘There’s no internet or computers to download – that’s a complete joke.’

She also noted that only about 20 percent of those claiming asylum actually have ‘legitimate asylum claims.’

The incoming congresswoman was elected in the 2022 midterms as the first-ever Republican and woman to represent Texas’ 15th congressional district. 

The lines were redrawn after the 2020 census to include an even larger portion of the southern border than the previous district lines.

De La Cruz says she hopes to serve on the House Homeland Security Committee after she is sworn into the 118th Congress next month and the GOP takes a majority in the lower chamber. 

Donald Trump sounded off on the state of the border crisis in a December 26 Truth Social post

Donald Trump sounded off on the state of the border crisis in a December 26 Truth Social post

Joe and Jill Biden are headed to St. Croix for the New Year amid the decision on Title 42. They are pictured here in 2019, courtesy of the St. Thomas source

Joe and Jill Biden are headed to St. Croix for the New Year amid the decision on Title 42. They are pictured here in 2019, courtesy of the St. Thomas source

 

He claimed his significantly harsher border policies were 'working fantastically'

He claimed his significantly harsher border policies were ‘working fantastically’

Former President Donald Trump also sounded off on the potential end of Title 42 in a post to his Truth Social on Monday.

‘Two years ago we had the strongest and safest Border in U.S. history. Hundreds of miles of Walls were built, my “Stay In Mexico” Policy was working fantastically,’ the ex-president began his post. 

‘Title 42 was in full force and effect, Border Patrol and ICE were doing an incredible, tough, yet compassionate, job, and our Southern Border was, for the first time in decades, being spoken of in glowing terms.’

‘Stay in Mexico’ was a Trump-era border policy that was opposed by civil rights and humanitarian groups. It forced migrants and legal asylum-seekers to wait for their U.S. court date in Mexico, which gave rise to squalid and crime-ridden encampments on the southern side of the border.

He concluded his post on Monday, ‘People weren’t even making the long hard journey up through Mexico. NOW OUR BORDER IS THE WORST IN HISTORY, & GETTING WORSE!’ 

But instead of dealing with the issue, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are heading for a warm winter break in the sunny U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday.

They will ring in the New Year on the Caribbean island of St. Croix before returning to DC on January 2. 

The White House has said it is a working trip. 

‘No matter where the President is, he is working. The President will continue to closely monitor updates and will remain in close touch with staff over the New Year,’ said White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons.

WHAT IS TITLE 42?

Title 42 border restrictions are a public health order that enabled U.S. authorities to turn back most migrants, including people seeking asylum from persecution.

They were introduced during the pandemic and are currently set to expire on Wednesday, after several extensions. 

But the number of migrants now attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border is at its highest level in two decades – with even larger numbers expected to arrive once the pandemic-era order is lifted.

Many of those were repeat crossers because Title 42 carries no legal or criminal consequences.

Title 42 authority has been applied unevenly across nationalities. 

Mexico has agreed to take back migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico – and limited numbers from Cuba and Nicaragua. High costs, strained diplomatic relations and other considerations have made it more difficult to remove migrants from other countries, who must be flown home.

Title 42 is one of two major surviving Trump-era policies to deter asylum at the border.

The little-used public health order that gives border authorities the ability to quickly expel nearly anyone encountered along the Southwest border.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether to allow the administration to force asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. That case originated before another Trump-appointed judge, in Amarillo, Texas. 

 

Author: Surya Yadav

This is Surya Yadav years of experience in the field of journalism, Surya Yadav heads the editorial operations of the Elite News as the Executive Reporter.

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