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Has Biden’s border order had an effect after a week? The number of migrants has fallen, but there are problems

A week after President Joe Biden signed an executive action to “suspend entry” of immigrants crossing the border illegally, the number of migrants has fallen by 25%, but officials are still releasing some illegal border crossers into the US, they say various Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Homeland Security officials said.

In some areas, border agents are pushing Central American migrants back into Mexico rather than deporting them to their home countries as outlined in the executive action, according to immigration advocates and an internal memo seen by NBC News.

The memo was first reported by the New York Post.

For more on this story, tune into NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight at 6:30 PM ET/5:30 PM CT or check your local listings.

A senior DHS official said early numbers indicate the executive action has deterred some migrants from crossing the southern border. Illegal border crossings fell from 4,000 per day last week to 3,000 per day as of Tuesday, according to NBC News Customs and Border Protection data. Biden’s executive action limiting which migrants can seek asylum took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5.

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But while the move prevents migrants from seeking asylum if they have crossed the border illegally, the administration is still allowing illegal crossings into the U.S. to live while they file asylum claims in immigration court, the DHS official said. The senior DHS official said some Migrants who crossed illegally and were released into the U.S. since last Wednesday could be ineligible during their asylum hearings and sent home for violating the executive action.

And despite the move saying the U.S. would deport anyone who does not qualify for asylum back to their home countries, immigration advocates say some parts of the border are sending migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador back to Mexico.

The senior DHS official said that without money from Congress for more detention space and deportation flights, Border Patrol will continue to be forced to release some illegal border crossers into the U.S., especially those from countries Mexico is reluctant to accept.

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Image: Processed migrants (Gregory Bull / AP file)

Image: Processed migrants (Gregory Bull / AP file)

But the official said those releases, which occurred before the executive action, have fallen by more than half since it took effect. In San Diego, where the number of migrants from China and elsewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere has surged this year, the memo says Border Patrol agents are being ordered to track down migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, to return Honduras or Mexico to Mexico, but to release migrants from the Eastern Hemisphere and other countries within the US

A temporary decline?

The senior DHS official said it is too early to judge the effectiveness of Biden’s new policy.

A representative of the Border Patrol union expects the decline in illegal border crossings after the executive action took effect will be short-lived.

“We see these declines in crossings when new policies are in place, but these smugglers are quickly changing their strategies and their activities, and the smuggling of people and people will continue,” said Hector Garza, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council , the cops. union, and a 24-year veteran of the Border Patrol based in Laredo, Texas. Garza said the executive action has not introduced any real change and described the state of affairs at the border as “status quo.”

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smuggler laredo texas arrest (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images file)smuggler laredo texas arrest (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images file)

smuggler laredo texas arrest (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images file)

The new policy could also soon be blocked in court. In a lawsuit in Washington on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union led a lawsuit with several immigration organizations against the Biden administration seeking to end the executive action. The lawsuit’s lead attorney, Lee Gelernt, said Biden’s policies are “almost identical.” to a document issued by Trump that the ACLU successfully blocked.

“We filed this lawsuit because this ban is patently illegal. The Trump administration has issued a nearly identical asylum ban. We have filed a lawsuit about this. We won. We hope to win again,” said Gelernt.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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