By PAUL J. YOUNG
city news service
The end of a federal immigration control regulation on Thursday is expected to trigger an increased influx of people crossing the border into Riverside County and elsewhere, putting “significant stress” on county resources and requiring decisive action. to stop abuse of the immigration system, according to local and local authorities. federal officials.
Title 42 of the US Public Health Services Act was activated in March 2020 by then-head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfeld, under the authority of the Former President Donald Trump, as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19. . The order, which ends Thursday, has allowed federal authorities to send people who cross the border back to Mexico without formal asylum hearings based on efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, the health order provided the means to remove 2.7 million people in the past three years.
“It remains to be seen what the local impact will be in the days, weeks or months to come when Title 42 expires,” County Executive Director Jeff Van Wagenen told City News Service. “We will likely see an increase in the number of people released by CBP. This will cause significant strain on the system.”
According to Van Wagenen, the county began receiving a large number of immigrant transfers of Border Patrol agents who had nowhere to put them in March 2021.
The period coincided with President Joe Biden’s rescission of Trump’s executive orders restricting immigration, including building a border wall.
Since then, Border Patrol stops near agency offices in Blythe, Indio and Murrieta have been constant, Van Wagenen said.
“Riverside County is the only non-border county in the country that receives CBP deliveries,” he said.
The numbers have fluctuated, but according to county officials, in March and April, the average number of undocumented immigrants left in communities within the county was 122 per day.
“By (this) May, we were getting close to 200 (per day),” Van Wagenen said.
According to Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, the tide of people crossing the border may become a tsunami after Title 42 restrictions are lifted.
“An estimated 150,000 migrants are waiting in northern Mexico for Title 42 to end in order to cross the border, with hundreds of thousands of additional migrants heading north from southern Mexico and Central America,” Calvert told CNS. “For years, Republicans in Congress have urged the Biden Administration to take action to prevent this crisis, but nothing has been done and the human tragedy will only get worse because of President Biden’s inaction.”
The administration has denied that the border could get out of hand. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last week that “the border is not open, has not been open and will not be open after May 11.”
Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Indio, told CNS that “our immigration system is broken,” but the administration has “taken positive steps” to institute a “safe, orderly, and humane system that reflects our American values.”
“There is more work to be done to equip our CBP personnel and border communities with the resources they need,” Ruiz said. of Title 42″.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed executive orders in November citing the trespass clauses of the US Constitution to justify the deployment of National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety personnel to deter and detain border crossers, whose crowds have been videotaped crossing the Rio Grande. Others have used land crossings, where they have been processed by Border Patrol agents.
CBP said that to date in the 2022-23 fiscal year there have been 1.54 million “enforcement actions” involving people crossing. In 2021-22, the figure was 2.76 million.
“Communities along the southern border, especially in Texas, are already at their breaking point,” Calvert said. “The level of human suffering will only increase as our Border Patrol officers, local governments and non-governmental organizations are overwhelmed. There is no doubt that the regions around the border, including Riverside County, will see a dramatic increase in the number of migrants funneled through our communities.
According to Van Wagenen, county agencies, along with state officials and nonprofit organizations, have worked together to prevent abandonment from increasing the county’s homeless population.
He said that while “wellness benefits … are not provided” to participants, “short-term safety net services” are provided, including motel rooms, meals and health screenings.
“In general, we can help move families and individuals to their next destination in two days,” said the CEO.
From March 2021 to April 2023, the county spent $9.9 million to cover these costs, Van Wagenen said, adding that all expenses have been reimbursed by the state and federal governments.
“There is an urgent need for intervention, especially given the uncertainty,” he said. “We are actively working with state and federal agencies … to take the pressure off the county.”
Calvert said several measures must be implemented immediately, including disabling “the incentive to send unaccompanied alien children to the border” and reforming the asylum process “to stop abuse of the system and protect valid claims.”
Ruiz said that a “comprehensive reform that modernizes our border management” would promote stability and provide “an earned pathway to citizenship.”
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