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Biden admin faces budget shortfall when border Covid ban lifts and migrants surge

Some ICE and CBP operations could be out of funds by July, based on predictions that 14,000 migrants could try to cross the border daily after Title 42 lifts in May.

U.S. border agencies could face a budget shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars if a Covid rule called Title 42 is lifted next month as planned and a record surge of migrants follows, and the Biden administration could ask Congress for more money to cover it, administration officials say. 

According to internal predictions, some operations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection could be completely out of funds by as early as July. Those projections are based on predictions that as many as 14,000 migrants could begin crossing the U.S.-Mexico border per day after Title 42 ends on May 23, nearly doubling last month’s record high number of migrant encounters. 

The additional funds would be used for transportation, medical care and beds in Border Patrol facilities for newly arrived migrants, the officials said.

Axios reported on Wednesday that the Biden administration is considering delaying its plans to lift Title 42 after facing pressure from Republicans and some Democrats that doing so would cause a massive surge and overwhelm border communities. 

More than 170,000 migrants are waiting in poor conditions in camps in northern Mexico and have not been able to enter the U.S. to make asylum claims because of Title 42, which went into effect in March 2020 as a public health order to slow the spread of Covid. They would likely join other migrants in attempting to cross the border as the order lifts. 

Local officials at the border have asked the Biden administration for more planning and more funding ahead of May 23. 

A DHS spokesperson said, “DHS will fund operational requirements by prudently executing its appropriations; reprioritizing and reallocating existing funding through reprogrammings and transfers; requesting support from other Federal agencies; and finally, by engaging with Congress on any potential need for supplemental appropriations, as necessary.”