EL PASO, Texas — El Paso’s lawmakers weigh in on the high number of migrant encounters on the southwest border just as the federal government is scheduled to stop Title 42 expulsions.
According to United States Customs and Border Protection data, the southwest border has seen 838,685 migrant encounters in the first five months of the new fiscal year, which is currently showing numbers from October to February. Last year at this point, CBP was reporting 397,549 encounters, which is about a 111 percent increase in encounters. To clarify, an encounter is any time a border patrol agent arrests a migrant. A migrant can be arrested multiple times and expelled again, which means the number of encounters in the CBP data does not truly reflect the number of migrants crossing the border.
The El Paso sector has seen a 68 percent increase in encounters so far this year, according to CBP data. The data also shows there have been 437,763 migrants expelled from the country under Title 42, which was installed during the start of the pandemic.
The federal government has decided to lift Title 42 restrictions starting in late May, drawing criticism from Republicans.
On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott pledged to take “aggressive action” to secure the border. Gov. Abbott has tasked the Texas Department of Emergency Management to charter buses that will take migrants released by border patrol to Washington D.C.
In an interview on Fox News, Gov. Abbott said, “Joe Biden has refused to come to the border to see the chaos he has created by his open border policies. We are going to take the border to him.”
In a press release sent by the governor’s office, migrants will have to volunteer to get on the charter bus destined for Washington D.C. and have documentation from the Department of Homeland Security.
El Paso congresswoman Veronica Escobar is in support of ending Title 42 restrictions. She spoke on the matter during a House Homeland Security Commission meeting on Wednesday.
“We have had a test case during the entirety of the Trump administration and one year into the Biden administration. Do walls stop migration? Does Title 42 stop migration? We have tried that, and for colleagues of mine who want to stop migration, I hope that the test case has proven what works and what does not work,” Escobar said.
ABC 7 reached out to Rep. Tony Gonzales about this issue, but have not heard back from his office as of yet.