U.S. Border Patrol is girding for another record-breaking migrant surge at the southern border this spring, CNN reported Friday.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told CNN that he's preparing for as many as 8,000 people to be apprehended daily.
"[That number] will probably become the norm over the next 30 to 45 days," Ortiz told CNN, which reported that Border Patrol had arrested 940,000 migrants since Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.
Officials are scurrying to build more facilities and line up prison buses to handle the surge. Internal documents have shown estimates of how many people are within relatively close proximity to the southern border and might plan to migrate to the U.S., sources told CNN.
Border Patrol statistics showed an average of more than 167,737 encounters during the past five months (October-February). During the last year, agents occasionally faced 8,000 encounters a day, CNN said.
In former President Donald Trump's final full month (December 2020) in office, there were 73,994 encounters overall.
"We're managing a flow that's significant," Ortiz told CNN. "As I get to, you know, 7,000 to 7,500 a day average, that's going to put additional strain."
Some border sectors already are feeling the strain, with facilities over capacity and holding more than 16,000 migrants on Tuesday morning, Ortiz told CNN.
The Department of Homeland Security has set up a "Southwest Border Coordination Center" at its headquarters to coordinate across multiple agencies.
Axios reported last week that the Biden administration officials were bracing for a potential influx of more than 170,000 migrants at the southern border when a Trump-era COVID-19 policy that allows for instant expulsions ends.
Border authorities have been relying on a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order known as Title 42 to turn away migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border since March 2020.
According to Axios, the CDC reviews the order every 60 days, with the next review coming up in early April.
"As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxes it domestic COVID-19 protocols, it is perplexing that the agency continues to recommend the extended use of this draconian policy at the border, contradicting the overwhelming signs of America's pandemic recovery under President Biden's leadership," Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a recent statement.
Without Title 42, the administration would release migrants into the U.S. while they go through their immigration proceedings, detain migrants, or remove them if they don't have an asylum claim.
The Biden administration last week rescinded a Trump-era policy that had expanded expedited removal of migrants who could not prove they had been in the U.S. for at least two years
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