US increases border deportations, lawsuits amid influx of migrants

The Biden administration is stepping up deportations and prosecutions of migrants illegally crossing the southern border amid a 21-year record of migrant arrests and concerns over the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

US authorities are now sending migrants from Central America deep inside Mexico using a public health order of the Trump era which was extended indefinitely last week, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, who said the deportations were aimed at curbing repeated border crossings and the spread of the coronavirus.

The Biden administration has also restarted “expedited kidnapping” flights for some migrant families who cannot be deported to Mexico under the public health authority, known as Title 42. Since late July, the United States has carried out six expedited deportation flights to Mexico. Central America, deporting 242 migrant parents and children under the procedure, DHS officials said.

Adult migrants who attempt to cross the southern border again after being deported could be returned for criminal prosecution as part of another initiative designed to reduce the high recidivism rate among cross-border commuters, especially Mexican males, has said Manuel Padilla, responsible for customs and border protection (CBP) on Friday. during a call with Latin American journalists.

“What we want to discourage is irregular migration,” Padilla said in Spanish.

Guatemalan migrants deported from the United States march upon arrival at Guatemala City Air Base on August 4, 2021.

JOHAN ORDONEZ / AFP via Getty Images

The enforcement efforts mark a new, tougher chapter in the Biden administration’s border policy, which previously focused on expanding asylum capacity, ending Trump-era restrictions, and acceleration of the treatment of unaccompanied children. The overall goal, the administration said, is to establish a “humane” and “orderly” process.

“We will always be a border nation and we will enforce our immigration laws in a fair and equitable manner,” the White House said in a border policy draft released last month.

But an increase in apprehensions at the borders, overcrowding inside Border Patrol facilities operating under limited capacity, and growing concerns about the rise in coronavirus infections have prompted the administration to revamp its approach and use measures that have historically been used to deter migration.

US agents along the border with Mexico probably made 210,000 arrests of migrants in July, a monthly total not seen since 2000, according to preliminary figures. Around 80,000 parents and children traveling with families and 19,000 unaccompanied minors, a historic record, were among those held at the US border last month.

In a court statement last week, David Shahoulian, a senior DHS official overseeing U.S. border policy, reported “dramatically increased rates” of coronavirus infections among migrants at border patrol facilities, many of which have become overcrowded.

Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the former Immigration Naturalization Service, said current migration levels frustrate the Biden administration’s long-term immigration policy goals.

“The numbers continue to be high and do not follow the seasonal pattern,” Doris Meissner, senior researcher at the Migration Policy Institute, told CBS News, referring to increased apprehensions at the borders during the hot summer months. “The administration, putting politics aside, has an incredible operational challenge in dealing with these numbers.”

The White House declined to comment on the administration’s border strategy dossier. In a statement, DHS spokeswoman Meira Bernstein said the Biden administration’s border policy “remains unchanged.”

“Since taking office, the administration has had to rebuild the previously decimated system to ensure safe, orderly and humane management of the border,” Bernstein said. “As part of these efforts, the Department of Homeland Security continues to take steps to improve treatment at points of entry and strengthen the US asylum system. “

While unaccompanied children are the only group the Biden administration has categorically exempted from Title 42 border deportations, most of the migrant families encountered along the southern border in the past two months have been allowed to apply. asylum and to stay temporarily in the United States.

US officials said their attempts to deport families to Mexico had been hampered by Mexico’s reluctance to accept certain nationalities and parents traveling with young children.

Migrant families treated under Title 42 are generally not allowed to seek asylum in the United States before being deported to Mexico. People placed in an expedited deportation process can be expelled quickly unless they interview U.S. asylum officials after expressing fears of being injured in their home country.

The recent indefinite extension of the Title 42 deportation policy and accelerated family deportations angered advocates for asylum seekers, who fear the Biden administration is adopting a more draconian border enforcement posture .

Talks between the Biden administration and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the fate of the Title 42 border edict collapsed last week after the government decided to continue with the evictions. The administration also ended a partnership with the ACLU that allowed at-risk asylum seekers to enter the United States under humanitarian exemptions to the Title 42 rule.

Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead lawyer challenging the deportations, visited the Mexican border towns of Matamoros and Reynosa last week to observe the living conditions of asylum seekers hoping to enter the United States. -the applicants will place the families in “immediate danger”.

“Families with young children live in appalling conditions in open-air migrant camps and are sitting ducks for the cartels,” Gelernt told CBS News.

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