(CNN) — As administration officials considered a Trump-era border proposal this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Ron Klein, President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, with concern, according to three sources with knowledge of the call. .
The call, one of many that has come from lawmakers to the White House, was a sign of Biden’s politically precarious position as officials try to fend off Republicans who criticize the administration’s handling of the border and asylum seekers in the US. Appease Democrats concerned about banning those.
The Biden administration now faces a December deadline to eliminate a public health authority, known as Title 42, that was enacted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and allows officials to find people at the southern US border. The migrants who had gone were allowed to go away. Forefront.
Border crossings are expected to increase at the end of the measure, as authorities will no longer be able to expel them as quickly as has been done since March 2020.
During the call between Schumer and Klein, the Senate majority leader raised concerns about the administration’s readiness for the impending termination and whether officials were indeed considering a new asylum policy, according to two sources with knowledge of the call. Expressed.
Schumer and Klain speak regularly and often daily or at more critical times such as the currently ongoing year-end legislative sprint. But the emergence of the border issue in the discussion opens a window into a complex politics and political moment.
Schumer, a New York Democrat who has long lobbied the administration to end Title 42, is not alone. Administration officials have received a steady stream of calls from lawmakers as well as state and local officials, often reflecting widely differing views on the merits of the authority, people familiar with the matter said. However, all of the calls echoed ongoing concerns about the expiration of Title 42 and what it would mean at the border in recent weeks.
It’s a dynamic that comes as the Biden administration prepares intensely for a moment when officials have long grappled with how to navigate. In part, this is the latest step in a long-running effort, with officials well aware from their first days in office that at some point the politics of the pandemic era will end. Staff and technology infrastructure have been directed at key entry points, with increased levels and resources to be announced in the coming days.
Asked about concerns within the administration about a possible surge at the border after Title 42 is gone, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre cited a range of staff, prosecution and infrastructure implementation.
“We’re going to get the job done, we’re going to be ready and we’re going to make sure we have a humane process going forward,” Jean-Pierre told reporters at a White House briefing on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, the cross-cutting considerations on border policy are coupled with the significant diplomatic component of managing rapid changes in the countries of origin of migrants caught at the border, adding a new layer of difficulty to the administration.
Overall, administration officials have stressed that the only viable long-term solution to keeping the stimulus in check with the bipartisan structure introduced in the Senate last week will come from congressional action.
But there are no clear signs that the effort has picked up pace, and while a legal process remains in the air, officials remain highly prepared as they watch for ominous signs of what may come next.
Already over the weekend, more than 2,400 migrants entered the United States along just one section of the border, according to a senior Border Patrol official in what he described as a “huge increase in illegal crossings” in El Paso. , Texas Territory.
Homeland security officials have described the mood within the administration as concerned about the near-term influx.
Amid concerns about the harm and escalation of Title 42, officials have weighed in on what immigration advocates describe as a draconian approach in creating barriers to immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. A source told CNN that the asylum proposal was included in a memo sent to the White House by the Department of Homeland Security.
Sources told CNN that White House officials have been in daily discussions with Department of Homeland Security officials about the plan. The sources said the National Security Council, which is involved in managing migration amid mass movements in the Western Hemisphere, also played a key role.
“The team is working very hard to ensure that we are taking steps to manage the expiration of Title 42 and implementing an orderly and humane process. And we believe that by doing so we will address our security concerns. can protect,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday.
If adopted, the asylum proposal would be reminiscent of a policy implemented during the Trump administration that severely limits migrants’ ability to apply for asylum in the US if they leave before arriving on US soil. Lived in or traveled to other countries. No decision has been taken on the proposal.
Administration officials have also put other plans in place in anticipation of a surge of immigrants when Trump-era Covid-19 restrictions are lifted following a court order blocking the use of Title 42 this month. The legal battle intensified this week when 19 Republican-led states asked a federal appeals court to rule on their request to block the policy’s expiration until Friday, according to a court filing.
Since March 2020, when the authorization was invoked, border officials have turned back migrants at the US-Mexico border more than two million times.
The Department of Homeland Security is preparing temporary facilities to process migrants, including in El Paso, and exploring ways to return non-Mexican migrants to Mexico through existing legal mechanisms other than Title 42, according to two Homeland Security officials. doing. He insisted there are daily hour-long meetings to plan for the influx of immigrants.
In a document outlining border security preparedness obtained by CNN, the Department of Homeland Security broke down its six-pillar plan, which was released in the spring and has since been updated. According to the document, this includes expanding ground and air transportation capabilities to transport migrants for processing and removal, relying on the CBP One mobile app to process asylum seekers, and prosecuting repeat border crossers. To run includes increasing referrals.
In it, the Department of Homeland Security also stressed the need for Congress to act to update outdated statutes and help create a working asylum system, as it is currently under severe pressure.
But with just a few days to go until the early end of Title 42, plans are still being worked out.
“The 21st (going to) will be a disaster. There are a lot of things in the pipeline, but nothing is ready to go,” said one official, referring to December 21, when Title 42 is due to expire.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas outlined the government’s overall approach in a statement, noting that the massive movement of people around the world presented an extraordinarily difficult challenge.
“Despite our efforts, our antiquated immigration system is under pressure; This is true at the federal level as well as for state, local, NGO and community partners. In the absence of congressional action to reform the immigration and asylum system, the significant increase in encounters with migrants will further strain our system,” he said.
“Addressing this challenge will require additional time and resources, and to do so we need the collaboration of Congress, state and local officials, nongovernmental organizations, and communities,” he said.
Authorities are already dealing with thousands of migrants crossing the border daily and expect those numbers to rise in the coming days and weeks, putting a strain on already exhausted resources.
CNN previously reported that the Department of Homeland Security is preparing for a range of scenarios, including estimates of between 9,000 and 14,000 migrants per day, twice the number of people currently crossing.
Over the weekend, US border officials caught more than 16,000 people, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said on Twitter. Among the cities experiencing an influx of immigrants is El Paso, which has previously dealt with a surge of immigrants.
El Paso city officials said Tuesday they are monitoring the situation and discussing it with federal, state and local partners. Mayorkas also visited El Paso on Tuesday, where he met with Customs and Border Protection personnel and local officials.
The Biden administration is also seeking more than $3 billion from Congress as it prepares to eliminate Title 42, according to a source familiar with the request.
The request aims to increase resources for technology and border management and is part of wider funding discussions. This title is not exclusive to the end of 42, the source said.
“If Republicans in Congress are serious about border security, they will make sure the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security have the resources they need to secure our border and create a safe, orderly and humane immigration system.” White House spokesman Abdullah Hassan said in a statement.
Other border cities, including Laredo, Texas, are also bracing for an influx of arrivals.
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas told CNN he has been in close contact with the city of Laredo about preparations, adding that the city could move migrants to other places as they have done in the past if the non-profit organization takes over. The flood of advent cannot.
“Title 42 is critical to managing the current immigration crisis at our southern border. Without Title 42, the United States risks compromising its national security in South Texas,” Cuellar said in a statement. “I am joined by Senator John Cornyn, Senator Joe Manchin and Representative Tony Gonzales as a bipartisan delegation that recognizes the serious consequences that come without Title 42.”