The Biden administration wants $2 billion to deal with a looming surge of immigrants at the border

As the Biden administration prepares for the record number of migrants crossing the southern border daily to rise further when covid restrictions end this month, the Department of Homeland Security wants $2 billion from Congress to combat the surge, money that Republicans may not be willing to approve. .

Three senior DHS officials familiar with planning say DHS sent a request for roughly $2 billion to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which will now have to decide whether to deny the request or ask Congress for more money. The money is added to the president’s budget requests as part of a technical assistance package for fiscal year 2023.

Republicans have been reluctant to approve additional funding for the Democratic administration’s border efforts, saying they want to secure the border before more money is spent.

Covid-19 restrictions known as Title 42 have prevented migrants from applying for asylum more than 2.4 million times since the policy began under former President Donald Trump in 2020. A federal judge ruled that the policy must be lifted on April 21. december; several red states have sued to keep it in place.

The number of illegal immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border is already near record levels, between 7,500 and 8,000 per day.

“We are in the hole by millions, even without Title 42 being lifted,” said one of the DHS officials.

A group of migrants crosses the street.
Migrants cross the street in Piedras Negras, Mexico, on November 16.Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images file

The number of crossing attempts is projected to rise by as much as 2,500 a day when the Covid ban ends, DHS officials said, and could be as high as 10,000.

And when the ban ends, instead of being sent back across the border, more immigrants will have the chance to stay in the US and apply for asylum. The extra money is needed to process, house and transport them.

Without more space at border processing centers, the facilities could become overcrowded, just as they did in 2019, when migrants said they were being held in spaces too small to lie down to sleep.

They could also end up being released on the streets of border cities or bused by Republican governors to cities within the US.

The Biden administration appealed the federal court ruling that lifted Title 42 on Wednesday, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was correct to implement it. But the administration did not ask the judge to keep Title 42 in place.

A senior DHS official told NBC News it might be the perfect time to lift Title 42, because migration at the southern border is typically lower during the holidays. Also, Republicans who campaigned on platforms of tighter border security have wrapped up their midterm campaigns, and the 2024 presidential election is almost two years away, so border chaos is less likely to hurt Biden and the Democrats at the polls than they would if Title 42 were coming up. to an election, the official said.

The Biden administration has long planned to lift Title 42 by simplifying the asylum process, allowing Border Patrol officers to conduct interviews and quickly deport migrants. But he has warned that improving the process could take time and funding, arguing that “it won’t happen overnight.”

DHS did not respond to a request for comment.

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