Chicago bracing for another surge of migrants as Title 42 expiration looms

The United States is just one day away from the expected expiration of Title 42. This, as the crisis at the southern border intensifies and more migrants make their way to the Chicago area.

City officials reported that 48 migrants were dropped off at Union Station Tuesday, but say they don't have a clear schedule of when additional buses will arrive. Officials also confirmed to FOX 32 Chicago that Tuesday’s migrant bus is the only one that has arrived from Texas since January.

With the city's migrant shelters full and resources exhausted, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency declaration on Tuesday in anticipation of another surge.

On Thursday, at 11:59 p.m. EST, pandemic-related restrictions on immigration – known as Title 42 – are expected to come to an end.

"Let me be clear, the lifting of the Title 42 public health order does not mean our border is open. In fact, it is the contrary," said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Migrants hoping to call America 'home' will once again be processed under Title 8, which means U.S. officials will start denying asylum to migrants who try to cross the border without first seeking protection in another country they’ve passed through.

Title 8 also comes with harsher penalties for those who cross the border illegally.


"One thing is for sure, there’s going to be a lot of confusion," said Hassan Ahmad, immigration attorney and advocate, HMA Law Firm.

With the expiration of Title 42 fast approaching, migrants at the southern border are facing uncertainty, and for some, an even tougher journey.

The White House is now outlining the proper roads for migrants to follow. That includes applying for asylum through the CBP One app, but as Ahmad explains, it's not that simple. 

"It’s impossible to get an appointment. People are sitting in dangerous locations, squalid refugee camps, they can’t get signal. On top of that, facial recognition software is used in the CBP One app, it’s notoriously bad and ineffective for darker-skinned applicants," said Ahmad. "In theory it sounds good, but unfortunately in practice, it’s been an unmitigated disaster."

Migrants are also being asked to use ports of entry, and not to show up between them.

"Where the rubber meets the road is whether the administration is going to have enough resources actually to make this whole thing happen," said Muzaffar Chishti, senior fellow, Migration Policy Institute. "So to put it bluntly, if 9,000 people a day come between port of entry and the administration has only capacity to process 1,000, then what are we going to do with the extra 8,000."

Under Title 42, those who arrived at the border without authorization were essentially turned away without penalty. Now, the consequences for those who try to enter the country illegally are severe.

"An individual who is removed under Title 8 is subject to at least a five-year bar on re-entry into the United States and can face criminal prosecution if they attempt to cross again," said Mayorkas.

Also Thursday, the House is set to vote on a Republican-led border security package – one that President Biden has already threatened to veto if it passes.