EXPLANATOR: Why did Texas hold trucks at the border for days? | Policy

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to impose additional inspections of trucks entering Texas from Mexico was his latest move in an unprecedented foray into border security, which has long been the domain of government federal.

The two-term governor, like many Republican Party leaders, calls illegal immigration and drug trafficking from Mexico a “crisis” and blames President Joe Biden entirely. His latest actions follow the Biden administration’s decision to end pandemic restrictions to seek asylum at the border on May 23.

Here are some facts about the border conditions and Abbott’s response:

HOW MANY MIGRANTS APPEAR AT THE BORDER?

US Customs and Border Protection arrested 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 in the week ending March 28.

This is an unusually high number; The last week of March was poised to set a new monthly high under President Biden and one of the busiest ever. Border Patrol arrested the migrants nearly 1.7 million times in the 12 months that ended September 30 – among the highest since the agency was founded in 1924 – but that number masks a critical difference.

Since March 2020, US authorities have deported migrants more than 1.7 million times under the authority of Title 42, named after a 1944 public health law, using the threat of COVID-19 to deny migrants the opportunity to seek asylum, as required by US law and the international treaty. . Eviction carries no legal consequences, which encourages repeat attempts. In fiscal year 2021, more than one in four migrants at the border had been arrested “multiple times”, with repeat offenders arrested on average more than three times in the previous year. Therefore, the number of migrants who crossed the border is much lower than the number of times authorities have arrested migrants.

WHAT DID BIDEN DO?

The Democratic president reversed many measures introduced by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who called asylum a “scam” and said the country was “full”. The Biden administration rolled back a rule that generally banned domestic violence and gangs as grounds for asylum and ended bilateral agreements to send migrants to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to seek protection there rather than states -United.

Biden suspended the “stay in Mexico” policy on his first day in office after the Trump administration forced around 70,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in US immigration court. He was forced to reinstate the policy in December by court order, but the numbers were 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 declining, the administration announced on April 1 that it would end the authority of Title 42 on May 23. Some Democratic members of Congress joined Republican leaders in saying the move was premature and the administration was unprepared. The Department of Homeland Security says it is preparing for as many as 18,000 daily crossings.

On Thursday, 18 states joined Louisiana, Arizona and Missouri in a federal lawsuit to keep Title 42 authority in place. Additional states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Texas is conspicuously absent.

WHAT IS TEXAS DOING?

Abbott launched a multibillion-dollar border security mission last year, deploying thousands of state troopers and National Guard members, setting up new border barriers and jailing migrants for trespassing. Abbott, who is seeking re-election in November, has made it a cornerstone of his administration.

Texas, assuming a role like California’s during Trump’s presidency, has been one of the main legal opponents of changes in immigration policy. He joined Missouri in the Supreme Court case to end “Stay in Mexico.”

After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the end of Title 42 authority, Abbott began inspecting commercial vehicles in addition to independent CBP inspections, resulting in significant delays and negative reactions from its pro-corporate allies. He also chartered buses to Washington, DC, for migrants who volunteered to take them.

Friday, Abbott fully repeals inspections after announcing agreements with neighboring Mexican governors on border security, but said he would not hesitate to reimpose them in the future. Migrants are stopped at ports of entry in only about 5% of CBP encounters. The vast majority pass through mountains, deserts and cities between official crossings.

The dynamic with drug seizures is different, with fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and other hard narcotics overwhelmingly seized at official crossings rather than between them. Their compact size and lack of odor make them extremely difficult to detect.

IS THERE ANY OF THIS NEW UNDER BIDEN?

No, there have been several migration spikes since 2014, with a broken asylum system for three presidents. The United States became the first most popular destination for asylum seekers in 2017.

Immigration experts refer to ‘push’ factors that force migrants to leave their homes and ‘pull’ factors that refer to destination country policies that may influence decisions about where to go.

“Push” factors include hurricanes, violence, political repression, and poverty, while “pull” factors include real or perceived changes in US politics. A widely cited “pull” factor is a severely lagging US asylum system; it takes an average of four years for an immigration judge to decide an application from people who are not in custody.

Last month, the Biden administration unveiled a long-discussed and potentially significant change to expand the power of asylum officers to adjudicate claims, not just initial reviews. It is designed to decide cases in months instead of years, but officials say there are no additional funds for its launch, due in late May, and expect a slow start.


Spagat reported from San Diego.

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