Washington — The U.S. deported or returned more than 11,000 migrants to Mexico and more than 30 other countries in a week as part of a Biden administration effort to increase and publicize deportations following the expiration of Title 42 border restrictions, officials said Friday.
Since U.S. border agents lost their ability to summarily expel migrants under the Title 42 public health authority on May 11, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it had carried out over 11,000 formal deportations and returns of migrants who recently crossed the southern border illegally.
Unlike those expelled under Title 42, migrants deported under U.S. immigration law can face severe immigration and criminal consequences, such as a five-year banishment from the U.S. and potential jail time and criminal prosecution if they attempt to reenter the country without the government’s permission.
The Biden administration has highlighted the increased number of formal deportations, and the consequences they carry, as part of a broader campaign to deter migrant arrivals along the U.S.-Mexico border, which reached all-time highs over the past two years. Officials have also said the increase in formal deportations has contributed to a sharp drop in the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. unlawfully over the past week.
While daily migrant crossings soared to 10,000, a record high, just before Title 42 lapsed, they have since plummeted, with U.S. border officials averaging 4,400 apprehensions over the past week. In the past two days, Border Patrol has averaged 3,000 daily apprehensions, a 70% drop from earlier this month, DHS data show.
Among those turned back since Title 42 expired were 1,100 migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba who were returned to Mexico, which agreed to take back these nationalities at the request of the U.S.
While migrants from other countries are facing deportation and a five-year banishment under a process known as expedited removal, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Cubans are being offered the opportunity to return to Mexico so they can apply for a program that allows them to fly to the U.S. if they have financial sponsors, according to internal guidance reviewed by CBS News. These are counted as “voluntary returns.”
Working in conjunction with the increased deportations and returns is a recently implemented Biden administration rule that disqualifies migrants from asylum if they enter the U.S. illegally after failing to request protection in a third country, such as Mexico, en route to American soil.
The asylum restriction is designed to make it harder for migrants to pass initial screenings that determine whether they should be allowed to present their case to a judge. Those who fail these interviews face swift deportation. DHS on Friday said U.S. asylum officers had interviewed more than 2,700 migrants in the past week.
Biden administration officials have also attributed the reduction in migration to the U.S. southern border to efforts by countries in Latin America to stop migrants from journeying north.
Mexico and Guatemala have dispatched military and law enforcement units to slow down U.S.-bound migration along their southern borders, while Panamanian and Colombian officials are undertaking a weeks-long operation to curtail migrant smuggling near Panama’s Darién jungle.
While the Biden administration has tightened asylum rules and ramped up deportations, it has also expanded programs that give certain would-be migrants a chance to enter the country legally.
One of them, an app known as CBP One, allows migrants in Mexico to schedule an appointment to be processed at a port of entry and granted permission to seek asylum inside the U.S.. An average of 1,070 migrants have been processed under this program daily, DHS said, an increase from 740 before Title 42 ended.
Up to 30,000 citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela with American sponsors are also flying to the U.S. each month. DHS said 7,000 migrants arrived in the U.S. under this policy in the past week.