Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

Situation at US-Mexico border ahead of end of asylum limits very challenging

Situation at US-Mexico border ahead of end of asylum limits very challenging


Situation at US-Mexico border ahead of end of asylum limits very challenging

The US homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said on Friday that immigration authorities faced "extremely challenging" circumstances along the border with Mexico days before the end of asylum restrictions implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A surge of Venezuelan migrants through south Texas, particularly in and around the border community of Brownsville, has occurred over the last two weeks for reasons that Mayorkas said were unclear. On Thursday, 4,000 of about 6,000 migrants in border patrol custody in Texas's Rio Grande Valley were Venezuelan.

Mayorkas noted that Mexico agreed this week to continue taking back Venezuelans who enter the US illegally after asylum restrictions end on 11 May, along with Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans. Migrants have been expelled from the US more than 2.8m times since March 2020 under the authority of what is known as Title 42.

The secretary reaffirmed plans to finalize a new policy by Thursday that will make it extremely difficult for migrants to seek asylum if they pass through another country, like Mexico, on their way to the US border.

"The situation at the border is a very serious one, a very challenging one and a very difficult one," Mayorkas said.

Illegal crossings tumbled after the Joe Biden White House announced asylum restrictions in January, but they have risen since mid-April. The president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, said this week they have been hovering at about 7,200 daily, up from about 5,200 in March.

Border patrol chief Raul Ortiz said 1,500 active-duty troops are planning to be dispatched to El Paso, Texas, adding to 2,500 national guard troops already positioned across the border. Ortiz said El Paso was chosen because it has been a busy corridor for illegal crossings over the last six months. The troop deployment was announced this week but not the location.

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