Reopened Border Stays Closed to Asylum Seekers as Texas Jails Overflow With Migrants

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The U.S. borders opened for travelers vaccinated against COVID-19, but they remained closed to asylum seekers, reports Reuters. Any foreign national attempting to enter the United States without proper documentation will be subject to expulsion regardless of vaccination status. Noah Gottschalk, global policy lead with Oxfam America, one of the advocacy groups suing the Joe Biden administration to overturn the Title 42 order allowing migrants to be immediately expelled without an opportunity to seek asylum due to COVID-19 health concerns, said the exclusion of vaccinated asylum seekers strengthens the group’s argument that the policy isn’t about public health.

More than 1,300 medical professionals signed letters to the CDC urging it to end the border expulsions order, saying it lacked epidemiological evidence to justify it and put migrants at risk. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star using state law enforcement to enforce immigration law by arresting migrants for trespassing is overwhelming local courts and resulting in few convictions. Just 3 percent of the about 1,500 people arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges since July, 2021 have been convicted, all via guilty pleas. As of Nov. 1, some 1,006 migrants were jailed under the initiative. 53 percent have been there longer than 30 days and 14 percent longer than 60 days. Two men from Cuba were in jail 98 days after they were arrested. County attorney offices working on Operation Lone Star have just a few staffers who are accustomed to small caseloads. The state has lent prosecutors to counties and brought judges out of retirement to hear cases remotely. Troopers have been ordered by the state to arrest only single men, leaving women, families and unaccompanied children to be arrested and processed by Border Patrol agents.

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