Biden’s border restrictions lead to sharp decline in illegal crossings

McALLEN, Texas — The number of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border illegally has fallen more than 40% in the three weeks since President Biden announced broad restrictions on asylum applications, officials said. administration officials said Wednesday.

U.S. agents have arrested fewer than 2,400 migrants a day over the past week, down from more than 3,800 in early June, according to the latest data from the Department of Homeland Security. This is the lowest level of illegal crossings since Biden took office, DHS said.

The change was evident Tuesday in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, which has been one of the border’s busiest migration corridors over the past decade. Along border areas where migrant families crossed in large groups to surrender to U.S. authorities and seek protection, Border Patrol agents pursued a handful of adult men who tried to evade capture. The officers’ radios were mostly silent.

It is not uncommon for officers to see a fleeting drop in crossings whenever the government announces a major crackdown. Illegal entries reached record levels late last year but have trended downward in recent months, in part due to more aggressive enforcement by the Mexican government.

But Biden administration officials hope the falling numbers can ease Republican criticism of the president’s record at the border as he prepares to face off Thursday in a debate with likely GOP nominee Donald Trump. Polls consistently show high rates of disapproval of Biden’s handling of border security and immigration issues.

Homeland Security officials cautioned that the results of the crackdown were preliminary and presented the measures as an attempt to balance tougher law enforcement with more generous opportunities for migrants to reach the United States legally. .

Biden has “carried out the largest expansion of legal avenues and orderly processes in decades,” the DHS statement said, steps that “free up the asylum system for those with legitimate claims.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant advocacy groups are suing to block Biden’s asylum restrictions.

U.S. immigration laws allow anyone arriving on U.S. soil to request humanitarian protection if they have a well-founded fear of persecution or serious harm in their home country. The emergency measures announced by Biden on June 4 suspend access to these protections on an emergency basis, arguing that the US immigration system is too overwhelmed by illegal crossings and insufficient resources.

Biden’s measures call for lifting asylum restrictions if the number of illegal crossings averages less than 1,500 per day. They would return if levels rose above 2,500 per day again.

The decrease in illegal crossings has allowed U.S. agents to better protect the border and increase patrols, the department said, “strengthening DHS’s efforts to interdict individuals who pose a threat to public safety.”

The DHS statement echoes the administration’s calls for lawmakers to increase funding for the U.S. immigration system, including a major expansion of detention and deportation operations.

DHS said the number of migrants allowed to enter the United States with a pending court date after crossing illegally – the practice referred to as “catch and release” – fell 65 percent thanks to the measures. of Biden. Expulsions and returns to Mexico have doubled in the past three weeks, the ministry said.

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