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(WABNEWS) A judge’s ruling to prevent the Biden administration from ending Title 42 — a restriction put in place on the US-Mexico border early in the pandemic when Trump was president — is unlikely. reduce border crossings by undocumented immigrants, administration officials warned. Meanwhile, migration in the Western Hemisphere reaches new highs.
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has faced mounting pressure over his handling of the US-Mexico border. An issue that has divided even members of his own party, following the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lift Title 42, which allows officials to reject people arriving at the border, preventing migrants from applying for asylum.RELATED
Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for not being tough enough on the border. Meanwhile, some Democrats and immigrant advocates say the White House has waited too long to call it off. In any case, the ruling of a federal court it means that the administration should keep the policy in place for now.
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Along Mexico’s northern border, immigrant advocates say some of these people remain determined to cross and are desperate. “I don’t think just because Title 42 hasn’t gone away that people think that was the only way they were going to try,” said Sam Bishop, director of Global Response Management in Mexico.
“To me, the lack of any sort of visible and significant protest now in particular, or since Friday, is kind of a sign that this isn’t the only thing that they’re necessarily waiting for,” added Bishop, who works directly with migrants.
Over the weekend, following the court ruling, Border Patrol agents arrested more than 500 migrants in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone, which covers southern Texas, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Also in Yuma, Arizona, border agents apprehended more than 1,500 migrants in a 24-hour period over the weekend, a Homeland Security official told WABNEWS.
Migration in the United States reaches new records amid deteriorating conditions in Latin America, which were exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic. At the US southern border, about 40% of those crossing now come from countries outside of Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries ––Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador––, according to a Homeland Security official.
Numbers expected to remain high
The sources point out that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now operates under the premise that the numbers at the border will continue to be high, even with the covid-19 restrictions that remain in place. Now, the number of border crossings typically increases in the spring, but the current pace of record highs highlights the continued urgency at the US-Mexico border.
For months, DHS has been preparing for the suspension of Title 42, which was put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when it was dealing with about 7,000 people crossing the border daily.
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In a statement following Friday’s ruling, DHS said it will continue preparations to deal with a possible surge of immigrants at the border. Officials are also rushing to strike deals with countries in the region to stem the flow of people traveling to the southern US border.
The department is also working in a similar way with Mexico to mitigate trafficking along key areas on the US southern border, with patrols, checkpoints and pursuit of smugglers, an agency official said.
What Title 42 does “is determine who’s coming”
More than 6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have fled their country, according to DHS. Nicaraguans are also increasingly migrating, as are Haitians who had moved to the region years ago. Agreements on migration management have already been reached with Costa Rica and Panama: two countries that migrants pass through on their way to the US.
In the meantime, however, a variety of nationalities continue their journey to the southern US border. Some of them pose a challenge to the Biden administration because they cannot be easily removed under Title 42 or deported. Which in turn encourages more immigrants from those regions.
For example, Cubans are more difficult to expel given the bad relations between the United States and the island. Between last October and April, border authorities apprehended nearly 114,000 Cubans along the US-Mexico border, far exceeding recent years, CBP data shows.
“What US enforcement policy tends to do in the long run is determine who comes, rather than how many people come,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “Title 42 is important in determining who comes, but it may not be the biggest factor in how many people come,” he insisted.
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Still, vulnerable Republicans and Democrats urged the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place, arguing that it was a necessary tool until a comprehensive plan to manage the border was put in place.
Friday’s ruling, which determined that the Biden administration should have gone through the rulemaking process before finalizing the order, implies that Title 42 will likely remain in place for months to come.
“We will continue to see the bottleneck on the Mexican side of the border and this doesn’t really solve much,” Tucson, Arizona Mayor Regina Romero told WABNEWS when asked about the ruling. “I have said over and over again that Title 42 is not an immigration tool. It is a public health order, ”she completed.