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Mayorkas to visit El Paso Tuesday amid migrant influx

(NewsNation) — Thousands of migrants are streaming into the El Paso Sector daily, seeking asylum ahead of an anticipated visit from the Department of Homeland Security secretary.

The U.S. Border Patrol’s acting El Paso Sector Chief Peter Jaquez said there have been on average about 2,400 daily migrant encounters involving people crossing into the area over the past weekend.

The influx of migrants intensifies as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to visit El Paso on Tuesday, NewsNation’s Ali Bradley reported.

Sources told Bradley that Border Patrol agents were instructed to get as many people processed by any means necessary ahead of the visit.

“Customs and Border Protection’s El Paso Sector on the Texas border with Mexico has seen an increase in encounters. In order to process individuals as safely and expeditiously as possible, Border Patrol agents from Big Bend and CBP Officers from El Paso Field Office are assisting with processing,” CBP said in a statement to NewsNation.

Border Patrol agents confirmed with Bradley that it is a common practice whenever a “higher up” comes to visit: They either move migrants to other stations to be processed or they process quickly and clear out the facilities.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez said on Morning in America that it is important for Mayorkis to visit with Border Patrol agents and local officials as well as local citizens that live in El Paso to find out what the concerns are and what DHS can do to stop the massive flow of migrants.

“El Paso has never experienced or had been impacted by such a mass migration situation ever. Now, you’re seeing overcrowding, where now migrants will be released into the city. That’s unacceptable because now it’s going to impact the local residents,” Olivarez said.

He said that something needs to be done and there needs to be a strategy or plan put into place to combat the influx of migrants.

In just three days, Border Patrol reported that more than 7,300 migrants crossed the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez — many of whom were part of a caravan. Agents said at least 2,000 have been released into the community each day. And even with that, there are still more than 5,600 people in Border Patrol custody, according to the city of El Paso’s dashboard.

On Monday, at least two El Paso nonprofit shelters reported being at capacity – a situation expected to turn more critical as caravan members are released, NewsNation affiliate Border Report reported.

Before the influx, a normal day estimated about 800-900 migrant encounters. Since the influx of migrants, Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales from Texas is calling for the city of El Paso to issue an emergency declaration in order to get additional resources to the city.

“It’s time for El Paso to issue an Emergency Declaration due to the border crisis,” Gonzales tweeted on Monday.

“We are in the middle of the worst border crisis in our nation’s history and that is measured through the number of drugs, deadly drugs coming over, the number of suicides, the number of migrant deaths, the number of gotaways— I mean every single metric has been at historic numbers,” Gonzales said.

Agents from multiple central processing centers told Bradley they are assisting remotely by conducting virtual processing of migrants.

While Mayorkas’s itinerary has not been released, it is expected that he will meet with agents and assess the situation in El Paso on Tuesday, just days from the expiration of Title 42 on Dec. 21, with no contingency plans in place.

“This is what the removal of Title 42 looks like: pure and utter chaos,” Gonzales told NewsNation.

Agents told Bradley they hope the secretary will announce a plan for the end of Title 42, but they fear that his visit will be more of a “dog and pony show.”

“Honestly it’s just a huge waste of time for everyone. He’s not going to change now he’s only going to tie up what little agents are actually in the field,” one agent said.

Another saying agent said, “I think he will be received very poorly. They’ve done nothing to help us.”

Several agents told Bradley that morale has never been lower.

In just the last month, two CBP agents were killed in the line of duty. There has also been an increase in Border Patrol suicides: 14 CBP agents and officers took their own lives this year — the highest on record aside from the 14 lost in 2009.

If you or someone you know needs help, resources or someone to talk to, you can find it at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or by calling 1-800-273-8255. People are available to talk to 24×7.

NewsNation affiliate Border Report contributed to this report.