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Authorities warn migrants against crossing

(NewsNation) — Migrant crossings continue to surge as the debate over ending Title 42 continues.

Three buses full of migrants from Texas arrived at Vice President Kamala Harris’ D.C. home on Christmas Eve. Those migrants are being helped by humanitarian organizations that reportedly believe Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent the buses.

His office has not confirmed sending the migrants to D.C. Back in September, Abbott’s team sent two buses to Harris’ home and his office has sent more than 15,000 migrants to New York, Chicago, D.C. and Philadelphia.

Abbott is part of a group of Republican leaders across several states who have asked President Joe Biden to keep Title 42 in place.

The Biden administration said it is time for Title 42 to end, and it is targeting Dec. 27 as the end date, with two extra days of restrictions in place to allow for adjustment to the shift in policy. That’s up to the Supreme Court, which temporarily halted the policy’s end last week.

Anyone who comes to the U.S. has the right to ask for asylum, but laws are narrow on who actually gets it. Under Biden, migrants arriving at the border are often let into the country and allowed to work while their cases progress. That process takes years because of a 2-million-case backlog in the immigration court system that was exacerbated by Trump-era rules.

Title 42 allows border officials to deny people the right to seek asylum, and they have done so 2.5 million times since March 2020. The emergency health authority has been applied disproportionately to those from countries that Mexico agreed to take back: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and more recently Venezuela, in addition to Mexico.

“It’s important to remember that this was a 1944 year law providing emergency powers to prevent people with infectious diseases from coming into the United States. This is not a an immigration policy. It’s a public health protocol,” said Michael LaRosa, former special assistant to Biden.

Former President Donald Trump invoked Title 42 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as pandemic conditions changed, the Biden administration moved to end the policy.

In El Paso, leaders have decided to extend a state of emergency for 30 more days, giving the city more time to get support from the state, especially to set up more shelters.

The area has continued to see a surge in migrants, with as many as 5,000 crossings per day. The surge has cost El Paso close to $10 million, overwhelming the city for the past few months. The bitter cold that hit Texas over the holiday weekend has worsened problems, with El Paso leaders attempting to set up buses for migrants to stay in instead of sleeping on the streets.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to migrants over the weekend, telling them Title 42 is still in place and any illegal crossings will result in expulsions or removal proceedings.

“As temperatures remain dangerously low all along the border, no one should put their lives in the hands of smugglers, or risk life and limb attempting to cross only to be returned,” the statement read.

Texas also sent hundreds of National Guardsmen to El Paso to try to discourage migrants from crossing. The Texas military department put up wire fencing along the border and state troopers and other state agencies were on the ground either patrolling the streets or patrolling parts of the border.

“We need to keep Title 42 because we can’t sustain what’s happening here. We need to be able to send illegals crossing back into that country. With this unsustainable amount of people we need to have this for enforcement now because we don’t have the border agents to send. We don’t have the mechanisms to stop all these crossings,” said Adam Weiss, Republican political strategist.

There have already been a series of legal fights over the end of Title 42 and whether certain groups of migrants, including pregnant women, families and unaccompanied minors are allowed to be subject to the policy.

The Biden administration said once Title 42 ends, it will rely on Title 8, which expels migrants who don’t show a legal basis to remain in the country. Additional immigration reform would require Congress to pass legislation funding Border Patrol or changing the policies that allow or deny migrants entry to the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.