The U.S. state Texas on Monday deployed more than 400 National Guard troops and other personnel to El Paso, a city bordering Mexico, as the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted the termination of an asylum-limiting policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deployment aims "to safeguard the border and repel and turn back illegal immigrants," the Texas Military Office said in a statement.
Long lines of migrants were seen to have crossed border into El Paso from Mexico every day recently as the border policy, known as Title 42 which allows the U.S. government to swiftly expel asylum-seekers at the border during the pandemic, was set to end on Wednesday.
Following the Supreme Court decision, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said the city is going forward as if Title 42 were no longer in place.
"We are seeing breaking news that Title 42 may not be lifted. One of the things we are going to do is we are going to proceed as if it is going to be lifted. We are going to make sure we are prepared," Leeser said at a press conference.
Since the city announced an emergency declaration over the migrants surge on Saturday, the federal government has released 6 million U.S. dollars for El Paso, Leeser added.
The city said in its emergency declaration that it lacks resources to ensure new migrants have shelter from the cold and food, fearing lower temperatures expected this week could be deadly for migrants who have had to sleep on the streets.
Earlier on Monday, 19 Republican state attorneys general asked the high court to let Title 42 stand as states are grappling with an influx of migrants at the southern U.S. border.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in Monday's order, also asked the federal government to respond on the matter by late Tuesday afternoon.
The White House said on Monday that it is asking Congress for 3.5 billion dollars in funding to help with the situation at the southern border.
"The fact that the removal of Title 42 is happening in just a day or two doesn't mean that the border's open," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
"It would be wrong to think that the border is open. It is not open, and I just want to be very, very clear about that," she said.