The American Immigration Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization which advocates for immigrant rights, issued a press release on March 23, 2021, regarding the current situation at the U.S. – Mexican border. Here are five facts to know:
- Border arrivals have been rising since April 2020, when President Trump began expelling all individuals apprehended at the border under Title 42 of the U.S. Code. Single adults account for most of the increase. In February 2021, 71% of all people encountered at the border were single adults. The number of families arriving at the border is still half what it was in February 2019.
- The southern border remains closed to nearly everyone. Last month, 72% of all people encountered at the border were sent back to Mexico or to their home countries. Very few unaccompanied children and families were permitted to come into the country and challenge their deportation in court.
- Both the Obama and Trump administrations issued harmful deterrence policies, that did not deter immigration in the long-term. Obama detained families. Trump separated families and expelled people to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. These policies temporarily suppressed arrivals, but the push factors in home countries driving migration remain. There have been spikes in arrivals at the border in 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, and now 2021.
- So far, Biden has hardly changed border practices. Unaccompanied children have not been expelled under Title 42 since November 2020. After the court order suspending expulsion was lifted, Biden chose not to resume expulsion, but there has not been a change in practice. President Biden’s end to the MPP program had little effect, as just 1.2% of individuals at the border have been subject to MPP. The “Asylum Cooperative Agreement” with Guatemala that Biden terminated had been suspended since March 2020. The Mexican government in Tamaulipas has refused to accept expulsions of certain families with young children. Since the US can’t change Mexican policy, Biden’s administration has tried to fly some families to El Paso or San Diego to expel them at a different location. There has been no formal U.S. policy change to accept families.
- The biggest challenge is what to do with the record number of unaccompanied children at the border, who cannot legally be sent back to Mexico. Thousands of children are held in Border Patrol facilities because of logistical difficulties in transferring them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Biden has taken steps to increase the housing capacity of ORR and find the children sponsors.
Contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the current situation at the southern border.