Officials Are Preparing for a Migration Surge at U.S.-Mexico Border, Texas Congressman Says

Border officials are preparing for a significant rise in the number of people arriving at the nation's border with Mexico, a Texas congressman has said.

Rep. Henry Cuellar said he had been briefed that cartels in Central America are telling people the border "will be open" after President-elect Joe Biden's election victory last month.

He said the groups were "promoting and staging" migration to the U.S. by claiming Biden's administration would be more lenient over asylum claims than the Trump administration.

Speaking to Border Report on Friday, the Democrat said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had advised him "the bad guys are starting to promote to people of Central America and Mexico that 'the border will be open; it will be different so start getting ready to come.'"

As vice chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, Cuellar would receive operational updates from the agency on issues which are expected to require federal funds.

DHS officials also advised "we got personnel, we got equipment, we're working with Mexico," the congressman said

Cuellar said he has not been given estimates of how many people are expected to travel from Central America to the U.S. border, however he told Border Force he thought it would be fewer than the thousands who crossed from Honduras to Guatemala in 2018.

Some caravans are reportedly moving north after forming in Hondurans, where hurricanes have left thousands of people homeless.

A few hundred Hondurans—mostly younger people, and women with child—formed a caravan bound for the U.S. on Wednesday, Reuters reported this week. It followed calls on social media to organize the group, the news agency reported.

"We lost everything, we have no choice but to go to the United States," one unidentified man in the caravan reportedly told Honduran television.

DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf is scheduled to travel to Panama and El Salvador next week, in order to "discuss broader security issues impacting the region."

El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras form the Northern Triangle region of Central America. According to estimates from Lawfare in 2019, approximately 265,000 people have left the region in each of the previous five years, with the most bound for the U.S.

Mexican foreign affairs officials have committed to shoring up security at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, Cuellar said. "They still want to continue securing their southern border, which I think is good for us," he added.

A boy at the  Juventud 2000 shelter
A boy is seen among tents at the Juventud 2000 migrant shelter in Tijuana in Baja California, Mexico, on June 19. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty