Biden administration announces new border enforcement actions. While the courts have prevented the Title 42 public health order from lifting for now.
Recently the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry.
These new measures will expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration and result in new consequences for those who fail to use those legal pathways. They also draw on the success of the Venezuela initiative, which launched in October 2022 and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
The Administration is also announcing that it is surging additional resources to the border and the region, scaling up its anti-smuggling operations, and expanding coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organizations. Importantly, the actions announced are being implemented in close partnership with Mexico and governments across the Western Hemisphere.
Since 2022, the thousands of undocumented immigrants who remain on the border between the United States and Mexico have been waiting for the approval of some immigration reform that gives them the opportunity to legally enter the United States of America.
On the other hand, the controversial Title 42, which expeditiously deports migrants at the border, and which is still in force, was the great protagonist of the year 2022, which ended with a humanitarian and security crisis in the border states of the United States with Mexico.
In April 2022, the Biden administration announced the end of Title 42, but the debate jumped on the table. Officials warned that they were not prepared to handle the arrival of immigrants at the border. Under this policy, there are already almost 2,500 people who arrive at that border every day.
During the last midterm elections, Republican lawmakers running for re-election used the repeal of Title 42 to attack Democrats on immigration. For their part, Democrats in swing states facing tough re-election battles also criticized the move, saying the administration lacked a clear plan for dealing with the influx of immigrants.
Finally, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the controversial border restriction, implemented under the government of Donald Trump, will remain in force until the pending legal resources are resolved.
While these steps recent measures issued at the beginning of this year 2023, will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all of the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long.
It is a reality that the border between the United States and Mexico is undergoing constant transformation. Not only because of the interactions between two States with very different economic and political levels, but also because of the social and cultural processes that seem to upset the limits. Border dynamics, in turn, reflect the contrast between two continental cultures, the Anglo-Saxon and the Latin, giving rise to a complex bilateral relationship marked by multiple crossings, permits and prohibitions.
On the other hand, policies such as Title 42 and similar binational agreements generate serious humanitarian situations in towns and cities that do not have the necessary resources to deal with crises of this magnitude. That is why it is important to remember the past Summit of North American Leaders on January 10, 2023 in Mexico City. There, Biden thanked the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, for receiving migrants deported by the United States.
El Paso has become one of the flash points of the growing humanitarian crisis at the border, with up to 2,500 migrants a day, and the city’s mayor, Oscar Leeser and his officials have declared a state of emergency, as the community has been overwhelmed by the continuous flow of asylum seekers. While Title 42 remains in effect, El Paso is developing an alternative plan to handle a potential surge of immigrants in the event the order is terminated.
At the moment, around 1,000 beds have been installed in the city’s convention center. In addition, schools, hotels, churches and other non-profit organizations also house immigrants. The region is experiencing a record migratory flow with 2.76 million migrants detained at the United States border with Mexico during fiscal year 2022.
It is essential to understand that immigrants detained under the so-called Title 42 are not held in special areas for processing, but are immediately deported to Mexico or Central America, depending on their place of origin. According to data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 1.7 million people have been deported since the policy was implemented.
In addition, expelling immigrants also exposes them to risks in border areas. Since the start of the Biden Administration, Human Rights First has reported about 10,000 cases of kidnapping, torture, rape, or other violent attacks against people blocked or deported to Mexico under Title 42.
Title 42 was born during the first days of the expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the aim of establishing public order and stopping the spread of the virus. With this, the order would allow authorities to quickly expel migrants at the land borders of the United States.
With this and as a result of the implementation of Title 42, border officials can immediately expel migrants who enter through Canada and Mexico to the United States. However, unaccompanied migrant minors are exempt.
On April 1, 2022, the CDC announced plans to rescind the order, stating that it is no longer necessary given current public health conditions and the increased availability of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. However, the policy remains in effect.
Under the Title 42 order, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) prohibited the entry of certain individuals who “potentially pose a health risk,” either due to previously announced travel restrictions or for having entered the country illegally. country in order to “evade medical screening measures.”
In 2021, with the arrival of the Democrat Biden, the hopes of eleven million undocumented immigrants who for more than two decades had fought to obtain a path to United States citizenship had returned. However, for the moment, all attempts have failed.
Before the implementation of Title 42, migrants who came to the United States to request asylum or other humanitarian protection had the opportunity to present their cases before an immigration judge. Now, the right has been diminished, since the migrants do not even receive a deportation order.
Since March 2020, around 2.5 million people have been removed under the provisions of Title 42. Most of them during the Biden presidency. The policy remains in force, despite the fact that the US president has reiterated the need to end it. The White House promised to expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration.
The road that has led the Biden government to its current immigration policy has been long and tortuous. In 2022, the administration tried to end the Title 42 program, but a coalition of states, mostly led by the Republican Party, sued to stop the Department of Homeland Security from ending its application. Some states turned to the Supreme Court, which has ordered that it be maintained while current disputes are resolved.
In 2021 the United States was facing record numbers of non-citizens, including families, at the border, causing border facilities to fill beyond their normal operating capacity.
In February 2022, the US Border Patrol made more than 158,000 apprehensions at the southern border, according to agency data.
The chances of achieving immigration reform in the next two years are not promising. According to Miguel Tinker Salas, a professor of History and Latino Studies in California, “no party is going to take the risk of working to resolve immigration laws that favor the undocumented, everything is going to be aimed at border security.”
In this sense, it is important to emphasize that the House of Representatives in the next two years will be in the hands of the Republicans, a leadership known for its intense anti-immigration measures. In the Senate, history repeats itself. After the departure of Senator Kyrsten Sinema in November 2022, the Democrats have a narrow majority thanks to the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Without a clear possibility for Congress to reach an agreement, the best chances of achieving relief towards this blockade, or at least protection against deportation, remain in the hands of President Biden’s Executive. However, even if it did, it would still face lawsuits from states, as it has already done.
Faced with this situation, the US president is looking for alternative ways to ensure minimal protection on the border. After the Summit of North American Leaders (CLAN) on January 10, 2023, it was agreed to create a migration center to welcome refugees from the continent in southeastern Mexico, as agreed by the leaders of the three countries.
The Governments of the United States and Canada will collaborate with the Government of Mexico and international organizations to offer services and assistance for refugees in said space. However, in the press conference after the Summit, López Obrador denied that they were going to build a migration center, but rather invest in shelters.
According to the joint statement, the leaders promised to increase “regular routes as an alternative to irregular migration in America” and “strengthen asylum processes.” Before the summit, the United States launched a migration program agreed with Mexico that plans to give 30,000 humanitarian permits to Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians, but deport those who cross the border irregularly to Mexican territory.