Latest surge of migrants overwhelms Border Patrol officials

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. border officials say they’re bracing for a record-breaking surge of migrants.

Oscar Leeser, the mayor of El Paso, says the city just can’t keep up with migrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico.

“The city of El Paso only has so many resources. We have what we look at as a breaking point,” Leeser said.

Border Patrol agents report an average of 2,000 crossings a day in the El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials also say New Mexico is already seeing a 77% increase in migrant encounters compared to the same time last year.

The Mexican government is working with the busiest border sectors, including El Paso, to prevent certain asylum seekers from crossing – and to keep the number of illegal crossings at bay.

“Facilities don’t hold those numbers, so now we’re working with them to try to decompress the system and work together with them,” the mayor said.

In the past year, Border Patrol officials reported over 389,000 apprehensions in the El Paso sector – what they describe as a record.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security say the surge is also the result of Title 42 ending. That pandemic-era public health order allowed Border Patrol to expel migrants immediately.

Now, Border Patrol is operating on more traditional immigration law – Title 8 – which officials say slows down the deportation process.

“Now this person is coming into our custody and has to wait to be processed, which is going to be a longer process than when we were operating under Title 42,” said Fidel Baca, an agent with El Paso Customs and Border Protection.

Border Patrol agents say they’re pleading with migrants seeking asylum to do it the right way.