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Tighter US immigration controls keep illegal border crossings at a two-year low — for now

El Paso, Texas – Illegal crossings along the US southern border in February remained at a two-year low for the second month in a row, demonstrating the impact of tougher policies. Year of President Biden This year the unprecedented migration flows recorded since he took office.

The US Border Patrol recorded nearly 130,000 arrests of migrants who crossed the southern border illegally in February, roughly the same level as in January, when detections of illegal entry fell by 40% from close to register in December, according to internal federal data obtained by CBS News.

For the first time since Mr. Biden took office, Border Patrol agents did not record a spike in migrant concerns in February, when migrant flows were seen at the US southern border. It usually increases before peaking in the spring.

While migrant concerns remain at historically high levels and are expected to increase sharply in May, the lowest level in two years is a dramatic change from the situation along the US-Mexico border just two months ago, when a huge rise in illegal immigration led to Legal to souring. Federal and local resources.

said Doris Messner, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Immigration Policy Institute who oversaw the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1990s. “But this is more than a temporary pause.”

As part of his latest crackdown on immigration, Mr. Biden expanded a border restriction linked to the pandemic known as Title 42, which makes immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela eligible for expulsion to Mexico if they enter the US illegally. His administration also plans to replace Title 42, which is set to expire May 11, with a B.C Sweeping restrictions on asylum It would allow the government to deport immigrants who fail to seek refuge in other countries en route to the United States faster.

Those stricter rules have been paired with an expansion of a program that allows up to 30,000 immigrants with American sponsors to travel to the US legally each month, as well as a mobile app that gives hundreds of asylum seekers the chance to formally request entry. Border crossings to enter on a daily basis.

In December, the Border Patrol recorded the arrival of 222,000 immigrants, a near record. An influx of illegal immigrants from Nicaragua and Cuba has posed an unprecedented test for the Texas border city of El Paso, leaving hundreds of immigrants sleeping on city streets and forcing local officials to convert hotels, a convention center and a prep school into emergency situations. shelters.

But since Mr. Biden unveiled his new immigration strategy in January, El Paso has closed temporary shelters, and immigrants are no longer stuck outside the city’s local church and Greyhound bus stop. City officials said that incidents of immigrants crossing busy highways in El Paso have largely ceased.

“It’s going to incentivize legal immigration. As long as they follow the process, they can get in and that’s the right way to do it,” El Paso deputy city manager Mario D’Agostino told CBS News, referring to the new federal strategy. “That’s what we’re seeing now. That’s why we’re seeing low numbers.”

And the non-governmental shelters in El Paso, which are run by religious groups and nonprofit organizations, are no longer so severely overcrowded. A shelter for up to 85 parents and children near downtown El Paso housed just three families this week, down from more than 140 immigrants in December. An adjacent gymnasium has been repurposed as a shelter and now accepts single adults as well as families, after being turned down in December due to a lack of space.

A patch of land between the border barriers at El Paso and the steep concrete canal walls next to the Rio Grande is no longer a site where hundreds of migrants line up each day to seek asylum. Instead, the area was fortified with fencing, bales of barbed wire, and Humvees stationed by the Texas National Guard.

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An immigrant family in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, looks on at the US border near El Paso, Texas, now fortified with fencing, bales of barbed wire and Texas National Guard Humvees.

Camilo Montoya Galvez/CBS News

In Yuma, Arizona, a small border city that has seen the fourth-highest migrant movement nationwide over the past year, local officials also reported a sharp drop in immigrant arrivals. Douglas Nichols, the mayor of Yuma, said daily arrivals there had fallen to nearly 400, or a third of illegal crossings in December.

“The numbers are more manageable now,” Nichols, a Republican, told CBS News, noting that high levels of immigrant transit near Yuma over the past year have strained local resources and negatively impacted city business and the tourism industry.

But Nichols expressed concern that immigration could pick up again once Title 42 is lifted, saying the federal government should send more resources and staff to help border communities. He noted that Yuma has only one bus line and there are no formal systems for feeding and sheltering migrants. Federal officials have warned that the number of immigrant arrivals per day could rise to 13,000 once Title 42 expires absent a major policy change.

While Mr. Biden’s new strategy has so far appeared to reduce the number of illegal crossings, advocates for asylum seekers said the effort has come at an unacceptable human cost.

Migrants expelled by the United States are at risk of falling victim to criminal groups in Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s most violent cities, said Ruben Garcia, who leads the House of the Annunciation, a network of shelters in El Paso.

“How do you justify what is happening among the refugees in Mexico? How do you justify that?” Garcia asked. “This is totally unacceptable.”

Garcia said recent federal policy changes also run counter to Mr. Biden’s campaign promises to dismantle former President Donald Trump’s immigration legacy and manage immigration humanely. Instead, Garcia said, Biden is embracing asylum restrictions like Title 42 and “becoming the main expeller.”

Legal immigration pathways created by Biden have also come under fire from Republicans, who say he lacks the authority to accept large groups of immigrants outside the visa system, and from progressives, who say the programs are too limited.

Asylum seekers with appointments to enter the United States line up near the Port of Entry, which connects Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. Other immigrants without appointments are waiting on the street.

Camilo Montoya Galvez/CBS News

The sponsorship program is open only to immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, while the mobile application process for applying for US entry, known as CBP One, has been criticized by advocates who say it is a glitch and fails to allocate enough venues to meet high demand among immigrants in Mexico.

Biden administration officials have rejected accusations that their new immigration management efforts resemble Trump administration policies.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas said in an appearance last week that the strategy aims to “liberate [migrants] From the clutches of the smuggling organizations that inflict so much death and tragedies” by providing them legal ways to reach the United States

Mayorkas noted that around 740 asylum seekers are being processed along the southern border every day under CBP One procedures. Moreover, the sponsorship program has allowed 22,000 Venezuelans, 7,800 Cubans, 5,100 Haitians, and 1,600 Nicaraguans to enter the United States as of mid-February, according to a Department of Homeland Security tally.

In Ciudad Juárez, immigrants can be found all over town trying to secure a coveted CBP One date. In a shelter in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, Mexican families fleeing violence in the state of Michoacán said they had been trying to get a date for weeks, even months, to no avail. A group of Venezuelan immigrants who were fed by religious volunteers at the city’s cathedral said they had been given an appointment, but an appointment had been made hundreds of miles away on the other side of the border with Texas.

Meanwhile, near the port of entry where dozens of migrants are processed under the CBP One program each morning, three Venezuelan cousins ​​said they had flown there in hopes of improving their chances of getting an appointment.

One of the cousins, Daniela Moreno, a 19-year-old mother who crossed seven countries and the treacherous Darien jungle in Panama to get to Mexico, said she’s been trying to get a date for two months. The app often crashes, she said, and the indefinite wait has left her and her two-year-old daughter stranded in Ciudad Juarez.

“Mexico is very unsafe, especially for women,” she said. “I’d rather cross the jungle back and forth than cross into Mexico.”



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