On Tuesday, a line of National Guard men and state troopers stood on the banks of the Rio Grande, on the Texas side to prevent scores of migrants who had already crossed the river from turning themselves in to Border Patrol officials nearby. Upon receiving orders from Governor Greg Abbott (R), more than 500 soldiers deployed along the concrete river channel dividing El Paso from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, blocking one of the busiest entry locations for migrants attempting to turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol officials and apply for asylum.
Although state governors frequently send National Guard members to help federal agents guard the border, the Texas governor’s use of soldiers to physically deter migrants from entering the nation appeared to be an increase in force.
Biden faces logistical challenges as he works to fulfil commitments to fully restore migrants’ access to the U.S. asylum system at a time when authorities are overburdened by a record number of immigration arrests. Abbott’s show of force reflected the political furor, mostly among Republicans, over the president’s border policies.
Abbott has no legal authority to prevent refugees from seeking asylum anywhere along the border, according to American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt, who filed a lawsuit to repeal Title 42 along with other organisations. In an interview, he stated, “What Texas is doing by discouraging people from applying for asylum is obviously illegal and should cease right away.”
When Title 42, an emergency health order that the government has used since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to swiftly expel migrants — including asylum-seekers — at the U.S.-Mexico border without allowing them to request asylum, is lifted, thousands of migrants will either have recently crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso or be waiting to do so.
One of the 19 Republican-led states that requested a federal court extend the application of Title 42 past Wednesday was Texas. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to put an end to the policy’s upcoming implementation. The motion was swiftly approved by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who instructed the Biden administration to respond by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Hundreds of migrants jumped the river on Monday night and lined up against the steel barrier on the American side to wait for Border Patrol authorities to detain and process them before the National Guard and state troopers arrived. Many have been processed and then released back into the city, filling up the shelters in El Paso and forcing the city to convert other buildings into shelters.
The Department of Homeland Security announced a plan last week to send more resources to the southwest border prior to the Supreme Court’s intervention, and promised to support charities once border officials have freed migrants. The department stated that in order to control growing migration and target smugglers, it will also collaborate with other nations.