Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The Biden administration is expected to announce this week its intention to lift an emergency public health order that has restricted immigration at U.S. land borders since the start of the pandemic, according to people familiar with the planning.

The change, which is due to come into force at the end of May, will allow migrants entering the country to apply for asylum again without being quickly turned away due to public health concerns during the pandemic.

Officials predict that the lifting of the order, known as Title 42, will draw even more migrants from Central America and other regions to the southwestern border, where the number of people intercepted by law enforcement officers borders has already broken records in recent months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued the order and is responsible for deciding when to lift it, had come under increasing pressure from Democratic members of Congress and human rights advocates to do so. do.

The stakes are high, both from a humanitarian and political point of view. Democrats don’t want the southwest border to appear out of control in the months leading up to the midterm elections, which would fuel more Republican attacks on the Biden administration’s border policies.

But public health experts have said the order, intended to prevent migrants from spreading the coronavirus to the United States, has no scientific basis and that migrants do not pose a serious risk of transmission, especially at this time. stage of the pandemic.

Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, said Wednesday that the White House would defer to the CDC on when to lift the order. She said the government is preparing for a border push when that happens.

“We anticipate multiple contingencies, and we expect that when the CDC finally decides it is appropriate to lift Title 42, there will be an influx of people at the border,” she told reporters. to the White House.

Homeland Security officials on Tuesday outlined contingency plans to handle up to 18,000 border encounters a day. Working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other federal agencies, and state and local officials, the department is ready for additional personnel, buses and planes, medical assistance, and temporary facilities ready to process migrants.

Since October, border officials have apprehended 900,000 undocumented migrants at the southwestern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In fiscal year 2021, undocumented migrants were arrested a record 1.7 million times. The number of illegal crossings increased significantly after President Biden took office, compared to the previous year, when the number fell in part due to the pandemic. Currently, border authorities apprehend around 7,000 undocumented migrants a day at the southwestern border.

Bedingfield said the administration would work to ensure migrants are treated humanely, and cited the experience at the border last year, in the early months of Biden’s presidency, when no less than 14,000 children flocked to the border.

“There has been an effort to move these unaccompanied minors out of Border Patrol custody and into more child-friendly facilities as quickly as possible,” she said. “And we were able to reduce those numbers significantly.”

The Biden administration has defended the continued use of the order, citing the CDC’s assessment that lifting it would pose a threat to public health during the pandemic. But critics say the public health order has been used as a tool to control immigration.