EXCLUSIVE: Migrants Discuss Plans to Sneak Into US as Title 42 Expires

By Joe Gomez
Joe Gomez
Joe Gomez
Joe Gomez is an award-winning journalist who has worked across the globe for several major networks including: CBS, CNN, FOX News, and most recently NBC News Radio as a national correspondent based out of Washington. He has covered major disasters and worked as an investigative reporter in many danger zones.
May 12, 2023Updated: May 12, 2023

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO—The COVID-19 pandemic-era immigration policy Title 42 came to an end just before midnight on May 11 and thousands of illegal immigrants are anticipated to surge to the U.S. border when that happens, according to migrants and Mexican charity workers who spoke with The Epoch Times.

“We all want to reach the United States as quickly as we can,” Anna Maria Estrada told The Epoch Times in Mexico City. Estrada traveled from Guatemala into Mexico illegally with a group of dozens of other migrants.

They’ve been given visas by the Mexican government called Forma Migratoria Multiple, which translates as Multiple Immigration Forms, so they can travel freely through the country.

Estrada said that she and others are trying to get to the United States while there is still “time” to possibly take advantage of the chaos in the change of immigration regulations.

This idea has been spread widely by transnational criminal organizations to induce migrants to pay to smuggle them into the United States.

“DHS expects that encounters at the Southwest Border will increase as smugglers spread disinformation, which will place a strain on our immigration system, our communities, and our dedicated workforce,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement in early May.

Estrada says her group and others are willing to risk everything to get to the United States even if it means taking the dangerous train called “la bestia,” which translates as “the beast” or the “train of death.” The train travels from Guatemala to the outskirts of Mexico City and then up to various parts of the U.S.–Mexico border. Hundreds die every day by falling off the train onto the rails below, with the hope of making it to the border.

“We are going to the train to see if we can make it if there is still time,” Estrada said.

Epoch Times Photo
Illegal immigrants board vans after waiting along the border wall to surrender to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol agents for immigration and asylum claim processing upon crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States on the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on May 11, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Mexico City has provided shelter and aid to migrants traveling through, as have local churches like the Basilica of Guadalupe.

“Mainly the migrants are devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe so they will come here to pray for them and their families,” Arturo Duran, who works at the church, told The Epoch Times. “They have always gathered here as their safe place.”

Duran said the migrants are mostly peaceful as they head to the border, wanting only to seek a better life, but some have other intentions.

“Some brothers are very angry about what happened in the Juarez prison [a migration center that burned to the ground, killing at least 40 people in March] and are seeking revenge.”

Estrada’s group is part of thousands of other migrants trying to cross into the United States illegally.

10,000 illegal immigrants have been captured daily on Monday and Tuesday of this week, according to Reuters.

End of Title 42

Title 42 allowed border authorities to quickly expel certain immigrants who illegally crossed into the United States seeking asylum, but it did not prevent them from doing so again.

Now that it has ended, a stricter rule entitled Title 8 will be enforced, which would ban illegal immigrants who are captured crossing the border for up to five years.

The new rule would encourage illegal immigrants who are traveling to the United States from Central America to first seek asylum in other countries.

“We’ve gotten overwhelming cooperation from Mexico. We also are in the process of setting up offices in Colombia and other places where someone seeking asylum can go first,” President Joe Biden said at a White House press conference on May 9. “But it remains to be seen. It’s going to be chaotic for a while.”

Texas National Guard
Texas National Guard soldiers install new rows of barbed-wire near a gate at the border fence in El Paso, Texas, in the early hours of May 11, 2023. (Andres Leighton/AP Photo)

Biden has approved sending 1,500 troops to the border to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants and “supplement” Border Patrol resources for 90 days, but their time at the border could be extended.

“For 90 days, these 1,500 military personnel will fill critical capability gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support, until CBP [Customs and Border Protection] can address these needs through contracted support. Military personnel will not directly participate in law enforcement activities,” said Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder on May 2.

The DHS is launching a digital advertising campaign to counter the lies spread by smugglers about the end of Title 42, informing migrants that immigration laws under Title 8 are tougher.

The messages will run in countries throughout South and Central America, including Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Colombia, leveraging geotargeting along the migratory path and social media platforms popular among migrants, and including the ability for anyone to share the ads with others.

“This campaign adds to our extensive ongoing communications efforts in the region,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on May 10.

“As you can see by the images before us of removal flights and encounters with our Border Patrol agents, we are making it very clear that our border is not open, that crossing irregularly is against the law, and that those who are not eligible for relief will be quickly returned. Do not listen to the lies of the smugglers. This is what will happen to you. You will be returned,” Mayorkas said.

Response from Congress

In response to the end of Title 42, a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) introduced legislation resembling the operations of Title 42, giving the Biden administration a two-year temporary expulsion authority for migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States without inspection or proper documents. The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“The Biden Administration has failed to secure the border and the situation will get even worse once Title 42 is allowed to expire. It’s clear that Congress must immediately step in, and the bipartisan bill I’m introducing with Senator Sinema will help prevent the catastrophic fallout at the border we will soon see if no action is taken,” said Tillis in a statement on May 4.

Biden has said he would be willing to work with Congress on border security and has tried to tie it to raising the debt ceiling.

“We’ve had chaos at the border for a number of years. We have to fully fund the border security effort,” he said on May 10.