TYLER, Texas — The southern U.S. border is preparing for an increase in migrants seeking refuge when Title 42 expires Thursday night.
Title 42 is a pandemic-era policy instilled by the Trump administration to put a pause on allowing people to cross into the United States in hopes to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Border towns aren’t the only ones seeing the surge, many migrants have already arrived in East Texas with hopes they can start a new life.
"It's not a problem that's far away from us at the border. It's actually here in all of East Texas," said Gilbert Urbina, Hispanic American Association assistant director.
Urbina said people have come from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cuba seeking asylum in East Texas.
People like Heidi Del Carmen, arrived in Tyler a year ago from Nicaragua seeking a better life for her two boys.
"Everything I lived was like I was in a movie, you don't know if you’re going to live or die, where your next meal will come from, or when you'll arrive to your destination," Del Carmen said.
She explained her life in Nicaragua was extremely difficult.
"It’s not your fault that you’re born in a country that doesn’t give you a good chance at life, you work and you work for the bare minim and when you look back you realize how much exploitation there is," Del Carmen said.
When she was given the opportunity to travel to East Texas, although terrifying, she said she would do anything to get her boys out of that constant struggle.
"God willing, He will be able to help bring my children here to me, because if I have to return to my home country, I am afraid of what could happen to me," Del Carmen said.
Del Carmen is just one example of thousands of migrants who cross the border daily, risking their lives for a chance to start a new and better life in the United States.
"Asylum is a very specific criterion that they have to meet," Urbina said. "And many of the people don't meet that criteria. They're just fleeing poverty, instability, lack of employment, those type of issues that happen in third world countries."
Title 42 expires Thursday night and both the federal and Texas state government are working on plans to crack down on illegal crossings.
"The state of Texas deployed more than 500 additional soldiers to help with the effort here," said Matt Barker, brigadier general of the Joint Task Force Lone Star.
As many as 10,000 Texas National Guards members and 1,200 DPS troopers are at the Texas-Mexico border. That’s in addition to the 1,500 U.S. soldiers and Marines President Biden already deployed.
"According to the Biden administration itself, they anticipate about 13,000 people coming across the border illegally every single day," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a briefing Monday night. "If you extend that out over the course of a year, it means there will be about 4,700,000 people coming across the border a year."
Title 42 is being replaced by a new rule which states migrants who cross the southern border without authorization must first prove they asked for protection in a third-world country, or face tough consequences.
"Knowing that this is a regional challenge that requires a regional solution, we continue to work with countries throughout the Americas to deter irregular migration," said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
The White House is also working with other countries like Spain and Canada to set up processing centers, although those have not been set up yet.
Here in East Texas, The Hispanic American Association is busy working to help those who arrive at their doorstep, even if it's not the news they want to hear.
"We have to give them the legal explanation as to whether or not they can stay here," Urbina said. "If they do not meet the criteria, then there's very little that can be done for them. So they basically traveled here without any plan. And they don't have a real legal way to remain in the United States."
In the meantime, Urbina is working with Del Carmen as she awaits to hear a decision on her legal status from the courts.
"God has a purpose for each of us and I firmly believe he has me here in this position for a reason," Del Carmen said.
If you or someone you know needs immigration information, call the Hispanic American Association in Tyler at 903-595-0066.