Illegal US border crossings would have fueled a new Biden policy years ago


A CNN data analysis shows that a new Biden administration policy aimed at addressing illegal southern U.S. border crossings has been in place for at least the past three years due to an increase in migrant encounters.

The executive action announced Tuesday bars immigrants who cross the border illegally from seeking asylum — with some limited exceptions — if the number encountered by border agents exceeds the daily average of 2,500. Instead, they are immediately sent back.

According to Department of Homeland Security data analyzed by CNN, average daily illegal crossings have exceeded that limit for years, with more than 8,000 in December.

The surge driving those record-breaking crossings reflects an increase in global migration over the past five years, driven by factors such as an uneven economic recovery from the pandemic and climate change, says Colleen Butchell-Cavanagh, associate policy analyst for immigration. Policy Institute.

Under a pandemic-era restriction that was lifted last year, federal officials quickly deported hundreds of thousands of migrants encountered at the U.S. southern border.

A CNN analysis found that average daily encounters between immigrants and U.S. Border Patrol agents at the Southwest Land Border were fewer than 2,500 in January 2021. Publicly accessible records A federal website does not include appointments at South Coast ports that are covered by the policy.

To lift the new policy, the daily average would need to be lowered even lower — average daily encounters between ports of entry for seven consecutive days must be less than 1,500. Records show that the last time illegal crossings at the Southwest Land Border were low was in July 2020.

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Prior to 2019, the daily average along the southern border was close to or below 1,500. From 2014 to 2018, there were more than 45,000 clashes between US Border Patrol agents and immigrants along the Southwest Land Border in just nine months. However, since 2019, only 11 months — mostly from September 2019 to July 2020 during the peak of the epidemic — had fewer than 45,000 encounters. Border controls aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 in 2020 may have affected crossing numbers.

The main reason for the increase in the past half-decade is a global increase in migration, Putzel-Cavanagh said. After the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions, the recovery was uneven among countries. In some places, public resources, goods and employment are not available long after the worst of the epidemic. Elsewhere, crises created by climate change or war have forced more people to migrate. This resulted in increased immigration from many countries.

“The goal of this rule is to expedite more deportations,” Cavanagh-Butchell said.

Under the new administrative measure, immigrants who express fear after crossing illegally can get an interview with an asylum officer, but the threshold they must meet is much higher. Under the new guidance, border agents will no longer have to ask immigrants if they are afraid of being returned to their home country, which prosecutors and advocates have said are not always known.

It is too early to know the impact of the policy. The number of encounters between ports of entry has declined each month since January, but remains high, Butchell-Cavanaugh said.

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“Now that this rule is in place, we will see a reduction in the number of people arriving at the border,” he said. However, these policies often create a “wait-and-see” effect, with crossings rising again once the true impact of the policy is more widely understood.

CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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