Expected migrant surge prompts Hidalgo, Cameron counties to issue disaster declaration

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Hundreds of migrants wait to board buses at a makeshift check-in center Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the former Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course in Brownsville to be transported and processed by U.S. Border Patrol at a separate processing center. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

UPDATE (2:18 p.m.):

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. also issued a disaster declaration Thursday “in response to the imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property from the Border Security Disaster,” according to a news release.

The declaration is in effect immediately and will remain active for seven days. After, the county’s commissioners’ court will determine if the declaration needs to be renewed.


Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez issued a disaster declaration Thursday afternoon, citing “credible information about a potential migrant surge” following the expiration of Title 42 expected this evening.

“I have received credible information from officials with Customs and Border Protection that large groups of migrants are probing our international border in search of crossing points,” Cortez said in the release. “I have decided to declare this emergency as a first step in securing all available state and federal resources to ensure the health and safety of our residents.”

Title 42 was implemented in 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It put into action an old law that authorizes federal officials to limit entry into the country during a public health threat, Supervisory Agent Brandon Perryman, a spokesperson for the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, told The Monitor on Wednesday.

But when the pandemic struck the country, Title 42 became a de facto tool in immigration enforcement, allowing border agents to expel asylum seekers and other migrants under the policy.

Now, Title 42 is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

The disaster declaration will go into effect immediately and will last for seven days — unless the county’s commissioners court extends it, according to the release.

“The safety and health of Hidalgo County residents is my number one concern,” Cortez said in the release. “I have said all along that I would move quickly to help with security if I were asked. I have been asked.”


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