AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to impose additional inspections of trucks entering Texas from Mexico is his latest move in an unprecedented foray into border security, which has long been the federal government’s domain.
The two-term governor, like many Republican Party leaders, calls illegal immigration and drug smuggling from Mexico a “crisis” and fully blames President Joe Biden. His latest actions follow the Biden administration’s decision to end pandemic-related restrictions on claiming asylum at the border on May 23.
Here are some facts about conditions on the border and Abbott’s response:
HOW MANY MIGRANTS ARE APPEARING AT THE BORDER?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped migrants 164,973 times in February, a daily average of nearly 5,900. March figures will be released soon, but CBP said it stopped migrants an average of 7,101 times a day during the week that ended March 28.
That’s an unusually large number; The last week in March was on pace to establish a new monthly high in Biden’s presidency and one of the busiest ever. The Border Patrol stopped migrants nearly 1.7 million times in the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30 — among the highest since the agency was founded in 1924 — but that number masks a critical difference.
Since March 2020, U.S. authorities have expelled migrants more than 1.7 million times under Title 42 authority, named for a 1944 public health law, using the threat of COVID-19 to deny migrants a chance to seek asylum as required under U.S. law and international treaty. Expulsions carry no legal consequences, encouraging repeat attempts. In the 2021 budget year, more than one of four migrants at the border had been stopped “multiple times,” with repeat crossers stopped an average of more than three times in the previous year. Consequently, the number of migrants who crossed the border is much lower than the number of times authorities have stopped migrants.
WHAT HAS BIDEN DONE?
The Democratic president undid many measures introduced by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who belittled asylum as a “scam” and said the country was “full.” The Biden administration reversed a rule that generally prohibited domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum and ended bilateral agreements to send some migrants to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to seek protection there instead of in the United States.
Biden suspended the “Remain in Mexico” policy on his first day in office after the Trump administration forced about 70,000 asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. He was forced to reinstate the policy in December under court order but numbers have been modest. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 26 on whether and how Biden can end the policy.
With COVID-19 infection rates dropping, the administration announced on April 1 that it will end Title 42 authority on May 23. Some Democratic members of Congress joined Republican leaders to argue the move was premature and the administration unprepared. The Homeland Security Department says it is preparing for as many as 18,000 daily crossings.
Source: El Financiero