Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas marked the end of Title 42 immigration policy by once again warning migrants that “the border is not open.”
“Do not believe the lies of smugglers. The border is not open,” he said a minute before midnight on Thursday, echoing his calls throughout this week ahead of the lifting of the policy.
The U.S. has been bracing for an influx of migrants as Title 42, a COVID-era policy allowing for the rapid expulsion of asylum seekers, is set to expire at midnight. The rule was implemented in the early stages of the pandemic under the Trump administration, and President Biden has kept it in place.
“Starting tonight, people who arrive at the border without using a lawful pathway will be presumed ineligible for asylum,” the secretary said in his statement.
Mayorkas earlier Thursday laid out plans to respond to the end of Title 42, reiterating that there are 24,000 Border Patrol agents and officers at the border, thousands of troops and contractors and over a thousand asylum officers.
“We are ready to humanely process and remove people without a legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” he said.
“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,” the secretary added. “Together with our partners throughout the federal government and Western Hemisphere, we are prepared for this transition.”
Earlier on Thursday, House Republicans passed legislation to crack down on the border, including finishing former President Trump’s border wall and to restrict access to asylum.
The new measures have been criticized as the most extreme provisions in recent years to be seriously considered by the House.