The United States will turn away most migrants apprehended at its border with Mexico under a Trump-era policy aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus, giving the Biden administration time to implement “humane” asylum processing systems, reports Reuters. The decision followed reports of the release of some migrant families into the United States and increasing pressure on President Joe Biden to reverse the restrictive Trump policies still in place. U.S. officials in Texas last week released hundreds of Central American migrant families from custody amid concerns of overcrowding in Border Patrol facilities after local authorities in Mexico balked at taking them back. Biden has left in place a Trump-era COVID order called Title 42 that allows U.S. authorities to rapidly expel migrants caught crossing the border illegally back to Mexico. Attorneys and advocates say that merely uses the illusion of public health to undermine legal protections for asylum seekers.
Meanwhile, Arizona Central reports that U.S. officials in January encountered nearly 78,000 migrants attempting to cross the southern border illegally or who were denied at ports of entry, a 6 percent increase over the previous month. The Office of Field Operations and the U.S. Border Patrol, the two principal CBP subdivisions tasked with border enforcement also encountered 5,871 unaccompanied minors and 7,850 migrants traveling as families with children. Since the Title 42 restrictions took effect, recidivism rates — the number of migrants Border Patrol agents have caught crossing the border multiple times after an initial arrest — has increased to 38 percent, a dramatic increase when compared to the 7 percent rate in 2019. Since Title 42 went into effect on March 20, the U.S. has turned back more than 459,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.