Wednesday 21 December 2022

‘They Just Walked Right In’: NBC News Correspondent Describes What She’s Seeing At The Southern Border In Real Time

 An NBC News correspondent described her experience at the U.S.-Mexico border in real time Tuesday, as migrants continue flooding to the location in record numbers.

NBC News homeland security correspondent Julia Ainsley reported on the ground in El Paso, Texas, where she described how the community is growing increasingly overwhelmed by the record-high influx of migrants reaching the border in dire conditions.

“But really what we’re seeing here is a city that is overwhelmed and in chaos,” Ainsley told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “These families behind me here, these are some of the lucky ones who are inside a shelter, but a lot of shelters are overwhelmed. I just came from the streets this morning. There are hundreds of people sleeping in the airports, at bus stations, on the streets, and it’s actually very cold here. It was 33 degrees when I woke up this morning.”

“Migrants were huddling together under blankets for warmth, because even though Title 42 hasn’t lifted yet, so many people have been able to come across,” she added.

Shelters in border communities such as El Paso have become increasingly overwhelmed with numbers far exceeding their capacity. The Border Patrol Central Processing Center in the city housed 4,600 migrants despite holding a capacity of 1,040, according to footage previously filmed by Republican Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales and shared to Twitter by Fox News’ Bill Melugin.

Thousands of migrants have been entering or awaiting entry into the U.S. upon the anticipated expiration of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that has expelled at least 1.7 million migrants to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily halted the end of the policy after 19 states filed an emergency appeal against its termination.

An individual who runs a migrant shelter in the area told Ainsley there will be an “unfathomable” number of migrants sleeping on the streets if Title 42 is lifted. He called on the federal government to make more efforts to handle the conditions migrants are facing. Some migrants told Ainsley they crossed the border freely, without any interaction with border officials.

“It’s really just a numbers game, Andrea, and for awhile, yes, we’ve been looking at maybe 10,000 a day across the border, but I think it might even be higher than that,” she continued. “Now that I’ve been able to get down on the ground and talk to people, we’re talking about just here in El Paso, numbers could be as high as five to six thousand a day. This is just one small section of the border, so they’re worried that they could be completely overwhelmed and not be able to meet people’s basic human needs.”

“Officials have ramped up processing, but we were even able to see, as of last night, a lot of migrants just crossing. Migrants I spoke to this morning say they haven’t had any interaction with U.S. immigration authorities, they just walked right in,” she concluded.

Migrant apprehension numbers reached a record high in fiscal year (FY) 2022, with Customs and Border Protection reporting about 2.3 million encounters total. Apprehension numbers have already reached a record level of over 230,000 at the start of FY 2023, which began in October. President Joe Biden’s administration has said the border is “secure,” and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday the border “is not open.”

“It would be wrong to think that the border is open, it is not open,” she said in response to a question from CBS News White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe. “And I just want to be very, very clear about that.”

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