Judges in South Texas Counties Issue Disaster Declarations Amid Immigration Surge

Tony Webster https://commons.wikimedia.org

As the Title 42 immigration order expired on Thursday, many South Texas counties were quick to declare a disaster.

Judges Richard Cortez of Hidalgo County and Eddie Trevino of Cameron County issued their respective disaster declarations, allowing their counties to obtain relief funds.

Judge Cortez reportedly received credible information that thousands of individuals who would be considered illegal immigrants were waiting to cross the border into Hidalgo County, making him feel it necessary to declare the emergency. Other counties along the border have also called on the Biden administration to take immediate action in response to the situation.

While federal officials fought in court to keep Title 42 in place, it was ordered by the courts to be lifted at midnight. Republican senators have since criticized President Biden for what they describe as a poor response to the border crisis and illegal immigration.

Title 42 had been in place since March 2020 and allowed border officials to swiftly move people out of the US for the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19. While it prevented many from seeking asylum, there were few legal consequences, often encouraging repeat attempts.

However, following the expiration of the measure, anyone entering the US illegally may be barred from re-entry for up to five years and could also face criminal prosecution. While the exact number of migrants currently on the move is unknown, over 27,000 individuals have already been taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and holding facilities have surpassed capacity. The surge is expected to continue for an indeterminate period, causing many to worry about the overcrowding and sanitation concerns.