The situation at California's southern boundary is becoming increasingly chaotic.
Title 42, an emergency health rule that has been in place since 2020 and used to quickly expel those who entered the United States illegally is due to expire today at 8:59 pm Pacific time. As my colleagues Miriam Jordan & Michael D. Shear reported last week, it's an important shift that may lead to a surge in migrant arriving and could inflame tensions on the 2,000 mile border with Mexico.
Listen to Miriam who covers immigration at The New York Times explain the end of Title 42 in 'The Daily'.
Miriam & Michael report that, although no one knows what will happen, the federal government expects as many as 13,000 migrants per day to arrive immediately after today's measure expires. This is up from 6,000 a day on average. The number of illegal crossings has reached record levels in recent years. This surge is expected to further strain an already overburdened system. Last week, Biden sent 1,500 troops along the border.
California, as one of four states bordering Mexico, is already feeling the strain of this policy change.
As of yesterday, approximately 15,000 migrants gathered in Tijuana, just south of San Diego. They were booking hotels, filling shelters or sleeping outside while they waited for Title 42's expiration. Enrique Lucero is the director of the Tijuana city's migration services office. He said that several hundred asylum seekers arrive in the city every day hoping to enter the U.S. without permission and stay.
He told me, "People are desperate."
Lucero stated that Tijuana officials are prepared to provide medical care, blankets, and other supplies for migrants. Most of these migrants come from Mexico or Haiti. He said that officials are looking at opening an emergency shelter to house 800 additional people.
He said, "We're prepared for this, just in case."
San Diego officials, both county and city, said that they are working with partners at the federal and state level to prepare for a possible influx of immigrants into California following the expiration of Title 42.
Mayor Todd Gloria, of San Diego, expressed his frustration over 'this cycle crises which have a profound effect on American cities'
Gloria stated in a press release that she had met with Customs and Border Protection officials in Washington, D.C., and San Diego, to express the city's concerns about the lack of resources available to deal with an influx. The city needs significant support in order to tackle the looming border crisis. "Ultimately, Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform."
Scott Murray, the spokesman of the California Department of Social Services, said that since April 2021 California has provided services and travel assistance to 350,000 migrants.
Officials from the state said that they are monitoring homeless shelters in San Diego, and other hospitals in California which could be overwhelmed by migrants and providing assistance. Brian Ferguson, the spokesman of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, stated that the need for services is expected to be greater than the available resources in the state.
Ferguson said that although state officials did not have concrete numbers for how many migrants would be expected to enter California once Title 42 expired, 'we've heard that the number may be higher than ever'.
The torrential atmospheric rivers that flooded Southern California during the winter have caused everything to grow at once.
The Los Angeles Times reported that magenta bougainvillea and Indian coral trees are blooming in a food distribution centre on Skid Row. The Indian coral trees have fiery-colored flowers. Even a calla lily sprouted in a patch of soil that everyone thought was barren.