The U.S. continues to face a number of challenges at its southern border, including an influx of migrants, increases in unaccompanied minors and complications surrounding Title 42.
The U.S.-Mexico border has long posed problems for both nations as migrants seek to cross over to the U.S. With the number of migrants at the southern border increasing, the Biden administration is implementing new policies as well as keeping old ones from the Trump-era.
The number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border has been steadily increasing since April 2020 but spiked after President Biden took office. According to the Pew Research Center, the amount of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border rose up to nearly 200,000 in July — the highest it’s been in 21 years. There were 16,182 in April of 2020.
Migrants are crossing the border in one of two ways. “Those who ‘have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution’ in their home country are eligible for asylum when they present themselves at a port of entry for admission into the US. Others may evade immigration inspectors and border patrol by hiding in vehicles or travelling undetected across unprotected and often treacherous sections of the US-Mexico border,” according to the BBC.
Although there have been many migrants at the border, many of them are being turned away. This is partially due to the Title 42 emergency policy put in place by the Trump administration, which is still in place because of the risk of spreading COVID-19, specifically concerning the delta variant.
According to The Guardian, “Under Title 42, people who attempt to cross the border are returned to Mexico or deported to their home countries without an opportunity to test asylum claims.”
The BBC also reported that the Biden administration has continued implementing this policy and recently used it to justify the deportation of nearly 4,000 Haitian migrants. The migrants were not allowed to seek asylum.
Although many of the migrants expected the Biden administration to be more lenient with the U.S-Mexico borders, many are still facing expulsions back to Mexico after being deceived by coyotes (human smugglers) “who had falsely promised them that the border was open after President Biden’s election,” the New York Times reported.
Along with a spike in the number of migrants, there has also been an increase in unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the border.
According to the New York Times, these minors “are filling up detention facilities after Mr. Biden said, shortly after taking office, that his administration would no longer turn back unaccompanied minors.”
President Biden has also reached out to the Mexican government to help decrease the number of migrants at the border. The New York Times reports that “Mexico’s response has mostly been to ramp up raids of smuggling rings and to begin sending migrants — most of them from Central America — back home, according to shelter operators in Mexico. The government is also trying to keep more migrants from crossing into Mexico from Central America, as it did during the Trump administration.”
One spot on the U.S.-Mexico border that has faced an influx of migrants is a bridge that connects Del Rio, Texas and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. In mid September, this area received around 10,000 migrants — the majority of whom are Haitian, along with Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans, according to BBC. The migrants have been sleeping under the bridge and bathing in the Rio Grande as they await their turn to be processed.
In an interview with BBC, immigrants rights activist, former Border Patrol agent and intelligence analyst Jenn Budd stated, “When you have large numbers of people who need refugee or asylum status, and have essentially closed down the system that deals with refugees and asylum seekers, then you have people with no other choice but to cross illegally.”
Budd also believes that the Biden administration’s extension of the Title 42 pandemic policy is responsible for the disorganization and overcrowding at the border.
In September, “a federal judge blocked the administration from continuing to use title 42,” according to the BBC. The Biden administration appealed the decision, and the policy will now remain in place until January.