The Biden administration is sending 1,500 troops to the U.S. southern border starting next week in preparation for an expected migrant surge as the pandemic-era Title 42 border restrictions end.
The new troops will be performing administrative functions and will augment the 2,500 military personnel who are currently providing support along the U.S. border with Mexico, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
“In preparation for the return to Title 8 immigration enforcement, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are implementing sweeping measures with our regional partners to reduce irregular migration, ensure safe, orderly, and efficient processing, and promptly remove individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States,” DHS officials stated.
“DoD personnel will be performing non-law enforcement duties such as ground based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support,” DHS added. “DoD personnel have never, and will not, perform law enforcement activities or interact with migrants or other individuals in DHS custody.”
Officials say the additional force of active-duty troops will free up law enforcement personnel to better perform their jobs.
The troops will come from Army and Marine units, are expected to begin arriving by May 10, and will be on a 90-day temporary deployment, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a press conference.
“These 1,500 military personnel will fill critical capability gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support, until CBP can address these needs through contracted support,” Ryder told reporters.
He added that over time, the soldiers could potentially be replaced with National Guard troops, reserve forces, or contractors.
El Paso, Texas, which borders Mexico, has declared a state of emergency, while city officials are preparing for a flood of more than 35,000 migrants who are currently stuck in the violent Mexican city of Juarez, just a few miles away.
Under the Biden administration, illegal migration to the U.S. has hit record levels. For the fiscal year ending on Sept 30, 2022, border patrol agents had more than 2.7 million migrant encounters. For comparison, that figure represents nearly a million more encounters than the preceding year, and is roughy the same number of encounters that occurred during all four years of the Trump administration combined.
A day before DHS officials announced the troop surge, a coalition of more than a dozen groups sent a letter to congress urging members to support H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act.
“This flagship package represents the strongest border security and enforcement legislation put forth to date and fulfills key promises made in the Commitment to America,” the letter states. “The series of policy proposals that have passed through committee markups with full debate are a common-sense response to the chaos unleashed by the Biden Administration and would prevent further abuse of immigration laws to usher in even more mass illegal immigration.”
Among other provisions, H.R. 2 would increase the number of border patrol agents, deploy new technology to both the southern and northern U.S. borders, force the Biden administration to restart construction of the border wall, end catch and release, and introduce new legal measures to protect children from human trafficking.
“For more than two years, President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have watched our southwest border fall into the hands of violent cartels and stood by as their own open-border policies allowed the crisis to metastasize to our northern and maritime borders,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.), and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in a joint statement.
“This chaos has pushed our Border Patrol agents to the brink, forcing them to work endless hours with no support. But those on the frontlines know this is not just a humanitarian crisis, it is a policy crisis. As the end of Title 42 approaches, it is clear the Biden Administration’s plan is to continue funding border mismanagement instead of border security.”
The statement added, “After announcing our border security framework almost one year ago, our committees have put forth legislation to roll back the harm this administration has caused our country.”
The expected migrant surge comes just a week after Biden announced his bid for re-election, and will almost certainly be a key issue for Republicans seeking his defeat in the 2024 general election.