US bracing for influx of migrants at southern border if Title 42 revoked: DHS

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security is bracing for as many as 18,000 migrants per day at the southern border if Title 42 is revoked, according to senior DHS officials who briefed reporters on Tuesday.

The DHS official said they have "no idea" when Title 42, the controversial Trump administration policy that deports single adults under the auspices of a public health emergency, will be lifted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently conducting a review of Title 42, which must be completed by March 30. An announcement on whether it will be renewed is expected soon thereafter.

Officials said they have run through three scenarios and the highest level of migrants coming across the border per day was 18,000. They stressed it is only a prediction and they are prepared for anything. DHS has also established a joint information center with officials from across the federal government.

"I think it's unclear what the impact of Title 42 potentially lifting in the coming days, weeks or months would be on migratory flows, but we need to be prepared for considering a potential contingency, which is that the lifting of Title 42 could increase flows and so that is definitely part of this planning process," one senior DHS official said.

ABC News obtained a strategic plan outlining the steps DHS will take in "response to irregular migration patterns."

The 16-page document specifically says the lifting of Title 42 will likely "cause a significant increase along all United States borders -- primarily along the Southwest border."

"The DHS Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) produced projections for post-Title 42 Southwest Border encounters describing low, medium, high, or very high encounter scenarios," the document says. "These scenarios underpin planning assumptions that generate requirements which in turn drive operational execution. Based on these projections the SBCC is currently planning for 6,000, 12,000 (high) and 18,000 (very high) encounters per day."

In the event of large migration numbers along the border, Customs and Border Protection is prepared to more than double their air and bus transportation capabilities and beef up CBP agents at surge points.

The agency is looking at ways to make the situation more tenable if an influx of migrants does come, such as establishing an online preregistration system and sending more CBP officers to the border.

The department is setting up temporary facilities in anticipation of high migrant levels.

There was an average of 5,892 apprehensions along the southwest border each day in February, according to CBP data, an increase from 2021 when there were an average of 4,753 per day for the calendar year.

"We are now seeing 40% of our monthly encounters coming from countries that are not Mexico, or the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. That is frankly unprecedented and something that is concerning not just to us, but to the government of Mexico and other countries in the region," one senior official told reporters, noting that they are seeing an influx of Nicaraguan, Cuban and Venezuelan nationals.

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