Immigrant Legal Center braces for Omaha influx following U.S. border asylum shift

With Title 42 being lifted, the amount of asylum seekers in this country has only increased.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 11:57 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Immigrant Legal Center in Omaha has about two dozen lawyers who specialize specifically in assisting asylum seekers.

With the end of Title 42, the number of migrants congregating at the U.S.-Mexico border has gone from more than 10,000 just last week to about 5,000-6,000 each day this week.

6 News asked the lead attorney at the legal center if she expects an influx here in Omaha.

“We get a lot of calls as there are more people coming into Omaha. So, I would say over the last few months there has been a great number of people,” said Sarah Schoettle. “I think it’s too early to say if the change in Title 42 is going to cause a huge influx here in Omaha as people are still being processed at the border.”

The Biden administration is touting the rules shift to Title 8 as being much stricter when it comes to sending people back who try to cross the border illegally, something called “expedited removal.”

Schoettle says while most people expected the latest changes to lead to a rush to get in and shelters to be overrun with migrants, that’s not happening along the border.

“I think there’s a misunderstanding the return from Title 42 to Title 8 means this is a simple process that people are taking advantage of. But it is incredibly difficult to come to the U.S. and apply for asylum and succeed in one of those applications,” she said.

For another perspective, 6 News contacted Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon’s office.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska)
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska)(DC Bureau)

“The real issue is what the president did in his first days of his administration: He stopped the Remain in Mexico policy that compelled folks wanting to go to the United States to use the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. He also stopped building the barriers where the Border Patrol requested them, and he initiated catch and release for those detained. The cumulative result led to the worst border crisis we’ve seen as a nation.”

Statement from Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.

The Congressman went on to say he’s in favor of legal immigration, “so we can get the workers we need. Most employers cannot find the employees they seek.”

The Immigrant Legal Center maintains that most migrants are trying to come to this country because they are afraid for their lives in their country of origin and the United States can provide that safety.

However, others, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, see it differently. Just last week she called it a “crisis” and “an invasion.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds visited the Texas border with nine other Republican governors in 2021.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds visited the Texas border with nine other Republican governors in 2021.(KCRG)

“The Biden Administration has blatantly ignored the border crisis for more than two years, and now, they’re eliminating our most effective tool to slow this invasion of our country. Allowing it to end without another solution in place is not humane; it is a dereliction of duty. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of fentanyl are entering our country, cartels are trafficking women and children, our border agents are overwhelmed, and thousands of migrants are setting up camp in towns along the border. Joe Biden owns this national security disaster, and he needs to fix it. It starts with securing our border and addressing our broken immigration policies. The American people deserve nothing less.”

Statement from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said that “the federal government has abdicated its duties” in regard to the border, saying that “every state is a border state.” He issued a statement Wednesday in support of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen
Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen(KTIV)

“The federal government’s response, handling the expiration of Title 42, has represented a complete failure of the Biden Administration.

While the federal government has abdicated its duties, Republican governors stand ready to protect the U.S.-Mexico border and keep families safe.

Every state is a border state. All states have suffered from the effects of human trafficking and deadly illegal drugs coming across the border. Republican governors are leading the way to address the border crisis by enhancing penalties for fentanyl crimes and human trafficking while also increasing support for law enforcement.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has exemplified leadership at a critical time, leading the way with Operation Lone Star, and deploying the Texas Tactical Border Force to prevent illegal crossings and keep the border secure. We support the efforts to secure the border led by Governor Abbott.”

Statement from Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen