EXCLUSIVE: The Department of Homeland Security is forcing asylum officers to work both weekend days this week in an effort to deal with the influx of migrants at the southern border seeking to seek asylum in the United States as Title 42 public health order comes to an end, Fox News Digital has learned.
The Friday morning memo, sent by the Associate Director of United States Operations for Refugees, Asylum, and International Relations (RAIO) of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and seen by Fox News Digital, says employees were told on Thursday that they needed to work at least one day this weekend – and now the agency is taking it a step further.
“Developments during the day made it clear that more resources are needed, and we must take immediate action to increase the number of staff available on Saturday and Sunday to meet needs,” the statement said.
“In order to ensure full operational readiness, I must now direct all employees of the Asylum Division, with a few exceptions, to work Saturday and Sunday this weekend,” said Associate Director Ted Kim.
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The memo says the only positions exempted will be those that do not provide direct support to the ‘credible fear’ process – in which migrants seeking asylum first establish that they have a credible fear of being persecuted if returned to their country of origin.
The unusual warrant comes hours after the Title 42 public health order on the southern border ended with the national COVID-19 emergency on Thursday evening. The order has been in place since March 2020 and has enabled the rapid deportation of migrants at the southern border.
The expiration had raised expectations of a mammoth surge at the border as migrants believe they are more likely to be admitted to the United States – a claim DHS has repeatedly disputed.
Border Patrol agents have encountered more than 10,000 migrants a day for at least three days this week so far, with multiple sectors facing overcapacity. The agency sought to release the migrants in the interior without court dates, but was blocked by a court order issued Thursday evening.
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The administration said it would rely on traditional methods of processing under Title 8, while implementing a new asylum rule that would presume migrants are not eligible for asylum if they entered illegally and did not seek asylum in a country through which they already He also highlighted his expansion of legal channels and the creation of treatment centers across Latin America. He also sent personnel, including troops, to the border.
The memo to USCIS employees told affected individuals they had until 12 p.m. local time to submit an exemption request and provide “sufficient information to demonstrate that the situation is exceptional.” He indicates that the answers will be provided before 3 p.m. USCIS did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.
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“I am aware that this is a huge request and one that I do not take lightly, and it will no doubt be a major disruption for many of you. Although the request is difficult, it is necessary to ensure that the agency can fulfill its humanitarian obligations,” Kim said, adding that he too will be working both days.
The memo comes as officials warned that the United States could face chaotic scenes at the border as the order drops, with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warning Thursday that it could take time for the effects of the policies it has put in place are visible.
“I have said for months and months that the challenge at the border is and will be very difficult. And we have spoken many times that this difficulty can in fact only increase in this period of transition,” he said. said Mayorkas in a White Briefing from home.
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“It will take some time for our approach to gain traction and deliver results,” he warned.