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Biden administration extending Title 42 migrant expulsions, says Mexican government

Migrants bord a US Border Patrol bus for the detention center on the second day of the implementation of the “Credible Fear and Asylum Processing Interim Final Rule” on June 1, 2022 in La Joya, Texas, USA. The rule stipulates that cases that are eligible for asylum are expedited in months rather than years, in an effort to alleviate backlog of cases in the courts. Title 42, the Trump era mandate which was set to prevent migrants from entering the US, was to expire on May 23 but was blocked by a lawsuit filed by several states citing that the move to strike down the law “failed to meet standards set by the Administrative Procedure Act” and that there is no permanent solution to handling the inevitable surge in immigration. Opponents to upholding of the law voiced their demands stating that Title 42 is illegal in that it violates immigration laws that prevents immigrants from their right to seek asylum. Since the implementation of Title 42 in March 2020, US Customs and Border Protection has effected “more than 1.8 million expulsions, mostly on the southern border of the US-Mexico Border”. (Photo by John Lamparski/SIPA USA)No Use Germany.
John Lamparski/John Lamparski/Sipa USA via Reuters
Migrants board a US Border Patrol bus for the detention center on the second day of the implementation of the “Credible Fear and Asylum Processing Interim Final Rule” on June 1, 2022 in La Joya, Texas, USA.

Read this story in Spanish.

Mexican government officials confirmed to Texas Public Radio that the Biden administration is urging Mexico to take migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti expelled under Title 42. The officials added that a new program will be introduced this week.

Since migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba can’t be deported, if they cross into the U.S., they are allowed to stay and pursue asylum claims. Situations in these countries have deteriorated in the past year due to political and environmental reasons.

Reuters has reported that the Biden administration had been “quietly pressuring” the Mexican government to take in the growing wave of migrants crossing through the U.S.-Mexico border.

Numbers have been increasing; up to 660 Venezuelans have been crossing every day in El Paso alone. Most of those migrants have walked the Darien Gap jungles. Panama’s numbers show they had an influx of up to 1,606 migrants per day, and almost 80% of those were Venezuelan citizens.

The images of Venezuelans crossing the river are reminiscent of Haitians who in mid-September of last year camped under the Del Río international bridge in numbers approaching some 16,000 Haitians who also underwent expulsions under the Biden administration.

Since that period in Del Rio, more than 26,000 Haitians have been expelled from the United States. In May alone, the U.S. government expelled nearly 4,000 Haitians under Title 42, the health measure that the Trump administration reconstituted under the pretense of stopping the spread of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic.

Biden’s surprise declaration that the coronavirus pandemic is “over” now contradicts the legal basis of expelling migrants under the cautionary measure. Back in May, Democrats publicly sought to end the COVID health order. Now, it seems that this new agreement will delay the discontinuation of Title 42.

Democrats and immigrant rights groups have described Title 42 as a cruel policy, and say that extending it will endanger more lives of immigrants who are no more likely than anyone else in the country to carry disease. They call the policy “exploitative” and say that it actually endangers the lives of people who have a legal right to seek asylum.

This situation now converges with a difficult period facing Mexico. The ongoing surges in violence in that country leaves an already vulnerable population trying to escape criminal violence in their home countries facing an even more uncertain future, as Mexican authorities will not be able to return migrants to their countries of origin.

On October 6, representatives from twenty-one endorsing countries of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection met in Lima, Peru, to announce assistance and the shared response to irregular migration and forced displacement.

While the Biden administration wants to ward off migrants from U.S. borders through Title 42, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced over $240 million in new humanitarian and security assistance from the Department of State.

Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.