With Title 42 set to expire, border communities are bracing for a flood of migrants


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If you want to see what towns along the U.S.-Mexico border fear will unfold next week, see what happened this week in El Paso, where close to a thousand Nicaraguan migrants crossed the border, one after another.

Unless the courts intervene, next week, a controversial Trump-era policy on immigration expires and the implications could be significant. Border towns and border states are concerned that a flood of migrants will arrive daily. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that between 9,000 to 14,000 migrants may try to cross the southern border each day if the rule ends.

 A federal court ruled that the government cannot continue the swift removal of migrants at the US-Mexico border. The Biden administration is appealing the ruling and even suggested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might attempt to write a new order that would have the same effect as the previous order that attempted to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to block immigrants from entering the U.S. while seeking asylum. An appeal could keep Title 42 in place while the court considers the case, which could take months, or even longer. 

Attorneys General from Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming are asking the courts to let the policy stand. AZ Central reported:

Roughly 44,700 people are on waitlists in 10 Mexican border cities awaiting their opportunity to ask for asylum, according to a November 2022 report from the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin.

The number of asylum seekers from countries that have long been subject to Title 42 expulsions — including Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Venezuela — are expected especially to increase, experts say.

Migration flows, however, are projected to level out and stabilize after the initial surge of numbers in the first few months after the restriction’s end.

“There will be at least a short-term increase in the number of encounters after December because migrants will think that after Title 42, they will have easier access to get into the United States and seek asylum,” said Ariel Ruiz Soto, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.

The New York Post reported:

The end of a Trump-era border expulsion policy later this month is expected to jack up migrant border crossings by as much as 40%, El Paso, Texas, officials say. Once [migrants] see that it’s happening, more people will come in,” he said during a public meeting.

In El Paso, the policy end would mean the 1,700 daily border crossings could jump up to 2,380 a day.

There may be a legislative intervention too.  Politico reports:

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are also reportedly circulating a “draft framework” on immigration reform as the current Congress’ days draw to a close. Several issues would be addressed in the potential legislation, including a continuation of Title 42 with a one-year cutoff.

Along the border, cities are bracing for a flood of migrants. What is happening in El Paso is likely to play out in states all along the border.

KFOX in El Paso said the city is trying to figure out where it would shelter as many people as it expects would arrive right away. KVIA-TV reported, “The city (El Paso) is not only seeing an increase because of (Customs and Border Protection) releases but also migrants who were already expelled once and are making their way back to the U.S.” 

The El Paso Times reported:

During a work session Monday, the El Paso City Council re-enacted an emergency ordinance giving El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez the authority to direct personnel and resources to respond to the migrant crisis. El Paso County is looking to expand a support services center with funding fronted by the federal government.

City officials said December is already shaping up to be another “record-breaking” month for community releases, in which the Border Patrol releases asylum seekers — all of whom have been processed and have passed a background check — directly to the street rather than to area shelters.

“It’s not a good state,” said El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino of the imminent end to Title 42. “We could see up to thousands a day passing through our community. Nobody can keep up with that, there’s no number of shelters you could have for that. It’s going to take an all-out effort and a lot of that is going to come (from) the federal government.”

A new study by the George. W. Bush Institute finds that immigrants already in the U.S. are increasingly moving to and succeeding in smaller towns across America. You will notice that immigrants are moving into the Sun Belt. 

The study found:

Places where immigrants are thriving include centers for technology and other knowledge-centric industries, college towns, and metros that have been intentional in helping immigrants succeed.

Within large metro areas, fast-growing suburban counties mostly perform well ahead of core urban counties for immigrant well-being. Topping the rankings are technology centers like San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Washington and tech and finance centers like Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut.

Several mid-Atlantic and Midwestern metros like Baltimore; Pittsburgh; Cincinnati; Detroit; Dayton, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; St. Louis; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stand out for their immigrant-welcoming initiatives.

Unique economic positions elevate a handful of smaller metros like Rochester, Minnesota; Midland, Texas; and Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas. Newly arriving immigrants are disproportionately choosing traditional “gateway” metros, though they increasingly settle in suburban rather than core areas within these metros.

But immigrants making secondary moves within the United States are disproportionately choosing the same places as native-born people – metros with relatively affordable housing and growth-friendly business and tax policies. Once there, they gravitate toward fast-growing suburban counties.

(George. W. Bush Institute)

And the study points out that immigrants make significant contributions to the communities where they live:
Cities should focus on how their immigrant populations are faring for at least three reasons:

• Immigrant populations in U.S. cities are large. More than 45 million foreign-born people live in America today, with 42 million in the Nation’s metropolitan areas.6 Immigrants constitute 14% of the Nation’s population and 17% of the people in America’s 100 largest metros. Just under half the immigrants in the country are naturalized citizens, and millions more will become citizens in coming years. Focusing on the well-being of these large populations is the right thing to do.
• Immigrant populations make outsized contributions to local economies. Native-born as well as foreign-born people benefit when their city has a substantial immigrant population, as Section IV of this report shows. Localities should concern themselves with the well-being of their immigrant communities in part because they should hope these communities stay in town and grow.
Immigrant well-being signals whether cities are high-opportunity places. Cities must attract newcomers as well as retain homegrown people to succeed in the long run. If immigrants are doing well in a city, it’s probably a high-opportunity place for newcomers in general. If they’re not, the city is on a troubling path.

Interestingly, the Institute bearing the former Republican President’s name suggests immigration reforms that do not sound at all like what you hear from today’s GOP leaders:

Most importantly: Congress should pass legislation easing the path for highly skilled foreign-born workers and other workers sponsored by employers, including graduates of U.S. universities, to work in the United States. More generally, the Bush Institute believes that Congress should pursue immigration reform based on the following principles:
Dreamers – young people brought to the United States as children but lacking legal status – should be able to gain permanent residence and apply for citizenship.
America should uphold our longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers.
We should manage our borders through investment, innovation, and by helping our neighbors.
Our immigration systems should meet the needs of our 21st century economy.

We should create a more efficient temporary foreign worker entry program.
The United States needs a rigorous, fair process for undocumented immigrants to get right with the law.

When Congress passed legislation aimed at preventing “surprise” medical bills, that is bills that come from “out of network” doctors and others whom patients had no way of knowing they were out of network, the legislation did not include ambulances. Now, the Biden administration is going to take another look at that issue. In an emergency, it would be unreasonable to expect a patient to ask ambulance workers what insurance networks they aren’t a part of. As a result, patients find that sometimes insurers won’t pay the bill, which can be substantial. Add a helicopter ride to that response and it goes from substantial to a big chunk of money. 

The indication that Congress might be considering this issue comes in the form of a notice posted on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. The announcement says that on January 17 and 18, 2023, a high-level panel will begin exploring how to tighten the disclosure regulations for ambulances.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported about this issue over the summer. The report says:

This analysis finds that half of emergency ground ambulance rides result in an out-of-network charge for people with private health insurance, potentially leaving patients at risk of getting a surprise bill. Overall ambulances transport about 3 million privately insured patients to emergency rooms each year. Local fire and rescue departments and other government agencies account for nearly two thirds of those rides.

The analysis also examines several existing state and local laws that seek to protect consumers from unexpected or excessive bills for ground ambulance services, generally by limiting when and how much ambulance providers can bill patients for their services.

The analysis is available on the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an online information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system.

The Consumer Price Index figures this week may be telling us that the Fed’s interest rate hikes put a winter chill on inflation, even if it is a “soft” landing, as they say on Wall Street. All the same, the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates another half a percentage point today, like a booster shot to the vaccine.

Some of the biggest drivers of inflation, including new and used car prices, food, fuel and housing, all were flat or fell last month, according to the CPI.

(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The prices of used cars and trucks have been dropping for five straight months and are now down 3.3% from a year ago. Let’s make a point of saying that they are still nowhere near pre-pandemic prices. Housing prices, including rent, were flat. 

(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Look at the detailed chart above to see the 12-month trend and to remind yourself how food, gasoline, heating costs are all considerably higher than a year ago — and much higher than your pay raise.

Given the severe winter weather moving across the country it might be a useful time to explore energy costs and help the public embrace budget billing and find heat assistance.

Correction, Dec. 14, 2022: This story was updated to change the headline’s framing of Title 42.


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