Under political pressure, Biden officials toughen border message
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the US-Mexico border in South Texas on Tuesday as he pushes a tougher message of restoring consequences for people crossing illegally, countering criticism from Republicans and some Democrats with respect to President Joe Biden’s approach.
During a morning visit to U.S. border operations, camera crews were asked to film migrants boarding an outbound flight to Guatemala, and Border Patrol officials told Mayorkas they needed more technology and manpower to cope with a record number of crossings, according to images from Reuters. and a pool report. U.S. authorities are currently authorized to quickly deport migrants to Mexico or other countries under a public health order known as Title 42 intended to control the spread of COVID-19. Rapid deportations mean that migrants cannot apply for asylum, but also protect them from possible criminal charges, encouraging repeated attempts to cross the border.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that Title 42 was no longer needed for health reasons and intended to end it on May 23. But that termination was temporarily blocked by a federal court. A federal judge based in Louisiana is expected to rule this week on whether to keep it blocked following a lawsuit filed by a coalition of states with Republican attorneys general.
Mayorkas and other senior U.S. officials in recent weeks have adopted a tougher message to justify rolling back Title 42, saying deportations, which can include re-entry bans, are more effective deterrents than rapid evictions. The message thwarts criticism from both sides of the political aisle that Biden lacks an adequate plan for a possible increase in crossings that may accompany the termination of Title 42.
US Border Patrol officers arrested 202,000 migrants at the southwest border in April, down slightly from March but still near historic highs, government data shows.
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