Migrant numbers increase along US-Mexico border as they await Biden's immigration action
Border Patrol reports steady rise in migrant apprehensions amid new Biden policies
William La Jeunesse reports from the along the U.S. southern border in San Diego, California.
The number of migrants along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border is increasing as they await what they hope are dramatic liberalizations in border security and immigration policy from President Biden – who has already taken significant action to reverse Trump-era policies.
Border Patrol agents from California to Texas told Fox News that they are seeing steady increases in apprehensions, especially among Central American families and unaccompanied children in their sectors – specifically the Rio Grande Valley and Tucson, Ariz., sectors.
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One agent in Texas told Fox News that in three out of the last seven days, there were at least 800 arrests in their sector, up from about 450 a day just a few months ago. Meanwhile, they encountered two groups of more than 100 migrants approaching the border. The agent said the last time they saw that was January 2019.
Reuters reported on a makeshift camp in the border town of Matamoros, across the river from Brownsville, Texas, which has been expanding in numbers recently
“It’s been growing because people think that if you’re in the camp, you’ll be able to enter (the United States) first,” a Honduran asylum seeker told the outlet.
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Biden made big promises during the 2020 campaign on immigration and has moved fast so far to act on them – although not quickly or dramatically enough for some migrants and migrant activists.
So far he has reversed the Trump-era travel bans, halted construction of the wall on the southern border and strengthened protections for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – the 2012 executive order that protected illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.
Biden’s administration has also proposed a massive immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. The administration has also sought to slap a moratorium on most deportations – but that is currently subject to a legal challenge from Texas.
“President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safe and stronger and more prosperous, with a safe, orderly and humane immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people of newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations to more fully contribute to our country,” a senior administration official said in a call with reporters.
On Tuesday, Biden is expected to sign a number of executive orders, including setting up a task force to reunite those separated at the border during the Trump administration as well as reviewing asylum policies – including a review of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
MPP, known as “Remain-in-Mexico,” involves migrants being kept in Mexico as they await their immigration hearings, instead of being released into the interior. Trump administration officials warned repeatedly of a surge at the border if the policy was ended, arguing that it was key in ending the pull factors that draw migrants north.
Biden called the policy cruel and promised to end it on “day one,” but officials later cautioned that such a move would take time. Tuesday’s order would appear to be the first step in that process.
Officials at the border told Fox News that smugglers are using Biden’s promises to restart asylum, legalize illegal immigrants and stop enforcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to encourage migrants to make the journey. Additionally, the Title 42 public health order, enacted under the Trump administration and which allows adult migrants to be quickly returned home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is creating a backup along the border.
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Former Trump officials are warning that moves like ending MPP will lead to a new migrant surge at the border similar to that seen in 2019.
“With another stroke of a pen Biden is doubling down on his open border strategies, encouraging illegal migration, and creating the next crisis to reach our borders,” former Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan told Fox News. “Within two weeks of this new administration our borders are less secure, our country less safe, and the mission of our front line personnel has become more dangerous.”
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Meanwhile, migrant groups both at home and abroad are pushing Biden to move faster on immigration – even as he faces significant Republican opposition at home to his early moves. A migrant caravan that set out to the U.S. border last month told Biden it expects his administration to honor its “commitments” to them.
Fox News is told that many parents are sending over children who are under 17 and so cannot be deported, and then they are getting over the border fence somewhere else, in the hope of being reunited later on.
Also, because there are no prosecutions, there are no consequences and therefore no deterrent.
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.
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