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Biden admin moving officers from northern US to southern border for Title 42 migrant surge, Cuellar says

Rep. Henry Cuellar on Thursday said the Biden administration told him it’s planning to use law enforcement officers from the northern U.S. to deal with a massive surge in migrants coming to the southern border when Title 42 ends.

Cuellar, D-Texas, who represents a border community and opposes many of President Biden’s border policies, also said it seems the administration seems more interested in quickly moving migrants into the country than border security.

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“What we’ve gotten from the White House is their plan to handle this large number of people. Part of that plan is to move some of the officers from the northern part of the United States to the southern part. But that’s only temporary,” Cuellar told Fox News Digital in a Thursday interview. 

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Moving personnel from northern areas would mean they are not able to address some of the issues they are tasked with, Cuellar continued. “It’s almost like bringing people so they can be more efficient in allowing the migrants to come into the United States… It’s ‘how do we move the migrants faster from the border out into the interior?’”

President Biden makes remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 31, 2022. 

Title 42 was instituted by former President Donald Trump’s administration early in the pandemic as a way of allowing migrants coming to the border to be quickly deported. It has remained in place under Biden, but the president announced recently that he plans to rescind the policy effective late May. 

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Biden’s move was lauded by progressive Democrats but criticized by Republicans and many moderate Democrats who are up for reelection in November. They worry that by lifting Title 42 without a detailed plan of how to handle an anticipated surge of migrants would hurt border communities and harm Democrats in the midterms.

Immigrant men from many countries are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border on December 07, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona. Governors from 26 states have formed a strike force to address the crisis at the border.

“They are processed, they’re released or taken over to bus stations or other places, airports,” Cuellar said Thursday when asked how lifting Title 42 will affect his South Texas district. “So you know who carries the burden of taking care of those folks? It’s going to be the local communities, the local not-for-profits.”

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That the administration is moving assets from elsewhere in the U.S. to the border is not surprising. DHS announced it would “Ready to surge personnel and resources to the Southwest Border” late last month. Fox News also reported this month that the response to the situation at the border could include volunteers from other government agencies, including medical personnel at the Veterans Administration. 

“As we’ve been talking about, DHS has a plan,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “DHS is implementing a comprehensive strategy… to address a potential increase in the number of border encounters.”

Jean-Pierre added: “This strategy includes acquiring and deploying resources to address increased volumes that… involves moving officers, agents, DHS volunteer force personnel to rapidly decompress points along the border and more efficiently process migrants.”

But Cueller said those details underscore what he and others say is a premature lifting of Title 42 without taking into account what people directly affected by the decision think. 

“They need to listen to border communities,” Cuellar said of the Biden administration. “Who’s listening to the landowners, who’s listening… to the judges, the county judges, the sheriffs, the mayors, and the border communities? And then finally, who’s listening to the men and women in green and blue, the ones that provide border security? “

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Erin McEwan and Hillary Vaughn contributed to this report. 

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