Daily border encounters fell by more than half in January, DHS official says

Daily border encounters fell by more than half in January, DHS official says


Washington
CNN

Daily encounters with migrants along the US-Mexico border fell by more than half in January compared to last month, a Homeland Security official tells CNN, citing the extension of a Covid restriction from the Trump administration. era and recently launched programs to legally migrate to the US.

Last month, border authorities grappled with a spike in border encounters, averaging about 7,000 a day, ahead of the expected end of Title 42, a public health authority that has been in place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court temporarily halted the termination of Title 42 and left it in effect for the time being. But the influx of migrants underscored the challenges the Biden administration faces amid mass migration in the Western Hemisphere. Although the number of daily arrests has fallen, it is unclear how long this trend will continue as people continue to face poor conditions in their home countries.

Over the course of his presidency, Joe Biden has faced changing migration patterns that have stretched federal and local resources. The issue, in turn, has increasingly become a political vulnerability for the administration — drawing strong criticism from Republicans and Democrats — and has been a major point of discussion with countries in the South, especially Mexico.

Biden met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this month for the North American leadership summit, where migration was a key talking point.

Just days before the visit to Mexico, the Biden administration expanded a humanitarian parole program to take in up to 30,000 migrants per month from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. The program provides those nationalities with a legal path to enter the US instead of crossing the border. The administration has also made those nationalities eligible for Title 42, which means they can now be rejected by authorities if they fail to apply for the program.

Officials have cited the parole program and the expansion of Title 42 as one of the reasons for the drop in daily encounters this month.

Biden alluded to a potential drop in border crossings in Mexico, saying, “This will reduce the number of people legally trying to cross the border — illegally trying to cross the border.”

“We’re trying to make it easier for people to get here, by opening up the capacity to get here, but not putting them through that horrible process,” he added, referring to the treacherous journey that migrants take to the north often.

However, immigrant advocates have shared concerns about the program, arguing that it can only serve those with connections to the US, as it requires a sponsor and means more people can be rejected under Title 42.

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