Officials at the Department of Homeland Security are quietly bracing for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to storm the US-Mexico border — the biggest surge there in decades — if a federal judge’s ruling preventing deportations under a public health order goes into effect this week.
That would nearly double the 213,534 migrants Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended at the frontier in July, as well as the 208,887 encountered in August.
Those two months marked the first time that more than 200,000 illegal immigrants attempted to cross into the US from Mexico in consecutive months since February and March of 2000.
The NBC report, which cited two DHS officials, added that Mayorkas’ query was not based on intelligence or data, but merely represented a “worst-case scenario.”
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled Sept. 16 that the White House could no longer use the COVID-19 pandemic to justify quick deportations of families under the public health order, known as Title 42.
Sullivan wrote in his ruling that “in view of the wide availability of testing, vaccines, and other minimization measures, the Court is not convinced that the transmission of COVID-19 during border processing cannot be significantly mitigated.”
The Biden administration has appealed the ruling, which is set to go into effect at some point Thursday.
The report emerged one day after Panama’s foreign minister warned in an interview that up to 60,000 migrants — many of Haitian origin — are passing through the Central American country bound for the US. The report also follow the humanitarian crisis at Del Rio, Texas, where thousands of migrants gathered under a bridge after wading across the Rio Grande.
DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.