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DHS concerned it may need $2B to deal with migrant surge at border, documents show

The public health order known as Title 42 is set to expire Monday, which is expected to add yet more migrants to what is already a record number.
A U.S. Border Patrol officer directs migrants arriving at the border
A U.S. Border Patrol officer directs migrants arriving at the border separating Algodones, Mexico, from Yuma, Ariz., on May 16. Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

Senior Department of Homeland Security officials are concerned they will not have enough funding and resources to cover the recording-breaking number of migrants at the southern border, especially as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepares to lift Title 42 on Monday, according to internal planning documents reviewed by NBC News.

For now, DHS is using a $1.4 billion appropriation from Congress to handle a record level of border encounters, and planning to reprogram funding from other parts of the agency to handle what is expected to be an even higher number after the expiration of Title 42, the public health order issued to prevent the spread of Covid that has blocked more than 1.8 million migrants from entering the U.S. from Mexico since March 2020.

But according to the internal planning documents, both Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will only be partially covered by reprogramming, and officials are pushing the administration to ask Congress for a supplemental spending bill.

“If the Department does not receive a supplemental, we legally cannot reprogram/ transfer enough funding to cover all the requirements,” one of the planning memos said.

That memo cites funding allocated for the Biden administration’s family reunification task force, designed to find and reunite migrant parents and children separated by the Trump administration, as a “must” that cannot be sacrificed in order to secure the border.

Without tapping into key programs, DHS agencies that handle migration would need roughly $1.2 billion in additional funds to cover the cost estimated if border crossings reach 10,000 per day, the document says. The extra costs would be higher if more migrants cross: $1.6 billion for 14,000 crossings a day and $2 billion for 18,000 per day. Currently roughly 7,400 migrants are encountered at the border per day, the highest number since records began being kept in 2000. 

Three DHS officials told NBC News that the need for more funding has been voiced in recent meetings with White House officials, including one late last week and one early this week.

Image: Migrant Border Crossings At The Southern Border Continue As Judge's Title 42 Ruling Looms
A U.S. Border Patrol agent hands bags for personal articles to migrants before they are taken for processing on Thursday in Yuma, Ariz.Mario Tama / Getty Images

The additional funding is needed to increase space to hold migrants for processing, expand a program known as “alternatives to detention,” where migrants either wear an ankle monitor or check in by phone with an officer while they wait for their court hearing, and increase transportation of migrants, the documents say.

ICE has predicted it will need to increase the number of deportation flights as well as flights and buses from the border to cities in the interior of the U.S., where migrants will go to have their cases for asylum heard by judges, according to the planning memo.

A DHS spokeswoman said the agency is not currently seeking more funding for the border at this stage. 

“DHS is working closely with the White House and other departments in federal government on efforts that are critical to successful management of the border,” said the spokeswoman. “Should additional resources be necessary, DHS will work with the White House to engage Congress on any potential need for supplemental appropriations.”

The three DHS officials who spoke to NBC News said White House officials are aware of the need for more money and resources. The White House officials have not formally asked Congress for a supplemental spending bill. 

In a statement, the White House Office of Management and Budget said, “We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure it has the resources it needs to successfully manage the border, including by maximizing the additional $1.4 billion we secured for DHS through the fiscal year 2022 government funding bill, reprogramming existing funds, or, should it become necessary, requesting supplemental funds from Congress.”