The Department of Homeland Security released a statement at midnight Thursday as the Title 42 public health order expired affirming that the U.S.-Mexico border remains secure and Border Patrol agents will resume the authorized removal of migrants.
“The border is not open,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “Starting tonight, people who arrive at the border without using a lawful pathway will be presumed ineligible for asylum.”
He added: “We have 24,000 Border Patrol Agents and Officers at the Southwest Border and have surged thousands of troops and contractors, and over a thousand asylum officers to help enforce our laws. Do not believe the lies of smugglers.”
Mayorkas cautioned that violators would face “tougher consequences” as the Biden administration looks to combat the ongoing migrant crisis.
“People who do not use available lawful pathways to enter the U.S. now face tougher consequences, including a minimum five-year ban on re-entry and potential criminal prosecution,” he said. “Together with our partners throughout the federal government and Western Hemisphere, we are prepared for this transition.”
As for migrants currently in the country, Mayorkas said the DHS and its partners stand “ready to humanely process and remove people without a legal basis to remain in the U.S.”
Mayorkas’ warning comes as Border Patrol agents made another 10,000 migrant apprehensions Wednesday, the third day in a row, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources.
The statement comes after a federal judge Thursday evening blocked the Biden administration from implementing a policy that would have allowed immigration officials to release migrants currently in custody. The policy was announced to clear immigration holding facilities to avoid overcrowding ahead of the Title 42 expiration, which was expected to bring a surge of migrants to the border.
In his decision, Judge T. Kent Wetherell II imposed a two-week restraining order on the policy.
The policy was outlined in a Border Patrol memo, which says that migrants can be allowed into the country on parole if CBP faces overcrowding.
Earlier Thursday, Mayorkas spoke at the White House, where he cautioned the country would see a brief rise in the number of migrant encounters at the border.
“We expected to see large numbers of encounters initially. We are already seeing high numbers of encounters in certain sectors,” Mayorkas said. “This places an incredible strain on our personnel, our facilities and our communities with whom we partner closely. We prepared for this moment for almost two years and our plan will deliver results. It will take time for those results to be fully realized, and it is essential that we all take this into account.”
The State Department previously announced that with Thursday’s expiration of Title 42, the U.S. would return to implementing Title 8.
“Like many other COVID-era public health measures, the CDC’s temporary Title 42 public health order will also come to an end. But the lifting of the Title 42 order does not mean the border is open,” the State Department said in a statement on April 27.
It continued: “When the Title 42 order lifts at 11:59 PM on May 11, the United States will return to using Title 8 immigration authorities to expeditiously process and remove individuals who arrive at the U.S. border unlawfully. These decades-old authorities carry steep consequences for unlawful entry, including at least a five-year ban on reentry and potential criminal prosecution for repeated attempts to enter unlawfully.”
President Biden and Congress have been unable to come up with an agreement on how to secure the southern border. The president has threatened to veto the latest proposal from House Republicans.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.