US border personnel under strain due to new migrant arrivals, official says

Number of people crossing border illegally topped 10,000 a day this week

Migrants seeking asylum in the US queue before sunrise for processing after crossing into Arizona from Mexico. AFP
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The top US border chief on Thursday said personnel and facilities were under significant strain due to the influx of new arrivals at the southern border as Title 42 expires.

With the pandemic-era immigration restrictions set to expire on Thursday night, US Customs and Border Patrol held about 28,000 people at its facilities, as migrants attempt to seek asylum before a stricter set of rules take Title 42's place, Reuters reported.

The number of people registered crossing the border illegally this week surpassed 10,000 per day.

“This places an incredible strain on our personnel, our facilities and our communities with whom we partner closely,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters.

Migrants who arrive at the border illegally after Title 42 expires face a minimum five-year ban on re-entry and criminal prosecution if they are caught. Those who are caught will be deported within 30 days.

“I want to be very clear: our borders are not open,” Mr Mayorkas said.

About 24,000 border patrol agents and officers, thousands of troops and more than 1,000 asylum officers and judges have been commissioned to help with the transition to the new system, Mr Mayorkas said.

The border chief added agencies expect a large number of initial encounters and that they are already seeing high numbers in certain areas.

“It will take time for those results to be fully realised and it is essential that we all take this into account,” he said.

“We can see very crowded border patrol facilities. I cannot overstate the strain on our personnel and our facilities.”

Americans are largely unhappy with President Joe Biden's handling of the southern border.

A poll conducted by Reuters showed only 26 per cent of respondents approved his handling of immigration.

Updated: May 11, 2023, 9:04 PM