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US Migrant Tsunami Fails to Appear

FILE: This Jan. 18, 2018 photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows as existing wire mesh fence and a vehicle barrier near the Santa Teresa, N.M., port of entry.

WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the Border Patrol made 6,300 arrests Friday — the first day after Title 42 expired — and 4,200 on Saturday. That’s sharply below the 10,000-plus on three days last week as migrants rushed to get in before new policies took effect.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said “It is still early," on CNN.

“We are in day three, but we have been planning for this transition for months and months. And we have been executing on our plan. And we will continue to do so.”

Despite the drop in recent days, authorities predict arrests will spike to between 12,000 and 14,000 a day, Matthew Hudak, deputy Border Patrol chief, said in a court filing Friday. And authorities cannot confidently estimate how many will cross, Hudak said

The administration plans to ask an appeals court Monday for permission to release migrants without orders to appear in court. Authorities say it takes between 90 minutes and two hours to process a single adult for court - potentially choking Border Patrol holding facilities – and longer to process families.

By contrast, it takes only 20 minutes to release someone with instructions to report to an immigration office in 60 days, a common practice since 2021 to ease overcrowding along the border.

The Justice Department even raised the possibility of declining to take people into custody if it can’t quickly release migrants, calling that a “worst-case scenario.”

Ana Cuna, 27, said she and other Colombians paid $1,300 each to be guided across the border after reaching Tijuana. She said she touched foot on U.S. soil hours before Title 42 expired Thursday but, like others, was given a numbered wristband by the Border Patrol and, two days later, had not been processed.

“We want to come according to the law and be welcomed,” said Cuna, whose thatched tent included Colombian women and families hoping to reach Chicago, San Antonio, Philadelphia and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

President Joe Biden, spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, said his hope was that the border numbers would “continue to go down” but that “we have a lot more work to do.”

“We need some more help from the Congress as well, in terms of funding and legislative changes,” Biden told reporters.

Since the CBPOne mobile app launched Jan. 12 for asylum-seekers, it has exasperated many with error messages, difficulty capturing photos and a frantic daily ritual racing thumbs on phone screens until slots run out within minutes.

Last week, the administration increased the number of slots awarded on the app to 1,000 from 740, began granting priority to those who try longest, and released slots gradually throughout the day instead of all at once, which had created mad rushes.