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The Biden admin sends a lower percentage of border crossings back to Mexico

Biden administration officials say their new immigration policies have discouraged many migrants from attempting to cross the border since the Covid ban, known as Title 42, ended in May.

But an NBC News review of border crossing data shows that the Department of Homeland Security is also returning fewer migrants per day to Mexico than in the last full month before the end of Title 42.

Since Title 42 expired on May 11, an average of about 1,000 migrants have been returned across the border to Mexico, compared to nearly 3,000 a day in April.

As a percentage of total border crossings, about 14% of undocumented migrants entering the US each day in July were returned to Mexico, compared to a daily average of 32% in April.

Under Title 42, migrants were returned to Mexico without having had a chance to seek asylum in the US; the Trump and Biden administrations said this was to contain the spread of Covid. In the country’s three years of existence, it has blocked more than two million border crossings.

But as the policy neared its end, it could no longer effectively be used to block most potential border crossings. Mexican shelters became overcrowded and refused to take back people of certain nationalities. In the final week of Title 42, more than 10,000 undocumented migrants entered the US daily, with most of them released to remain in the US at least temporarily while seeking asylum and legal residence.

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Migrants camp next to the border barrier between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. The Biden administration has requested 1,500 troops for the US-Mexico border amid an expected wave of migrants following the end of the pandemic. era restrictions. (Christian Chavez / AP file)

With Title 42 expiring in sight, the Biden administration braced for the possibility of a wave of migrants on the southern border. It decided to implement a different way of sending migrants back to Mexico without the chance to seek asylum — a new policy known as “ineligibility for asylum.” If migrants have not attempted to seek asylum in the countries they passed through on their way north, or have not made arrangements for U.S. asylum hearings through the government’s CBP One phone app, they are deemed ineligible for submitting asylum applications when they cross the border. sent back south.

The Biden administration has defended the use of the policy in court, arguing that without it, the numbers could rise again to overwhelming levels. Two federal courts have ruled against the asylum ineligibility policy, and the Supreme Court is likely to decide the final fate, but for now the government is still using it to get migrants back to Mexico.

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Why is a lower percentage of migrants being returned now?

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment on the drop in deportations to Mexico.

One reason could be that it simply takes longer to process migrants under the new policy. Under Title 42, migrants did not have to be transferred or go to asylum officials to determine whether they had the right to remain in the US and seek legal protection. Now some people remain in detention or are released to the US while the Biden administration decides whether they qualify for asylum. While the new policy results in faster decisions than under pre-2020 boundary rules, when many such decisions could take days, it’s just not as fast as the eviction process during the Title 42 era, when decisions could be made in minutes or hours . .

The decrease in the number of evictions may also be related to the increased use of the CBP One app. Migrants en route to the US have been able to make appointments for asylum hearings via the mobile app since January, but the number of users has increased in recent months. In July, CBP One processed more than 44,700 people based on agreements made, according to Customs and Border Protection data released last week. The majority of migrants who apply through the app are allowed to stay in the US temporarily while they file their asylum applications — even though most of them will eventually lose their cases.

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Meanwhile, the number of attempted border crossings per day has risen again from its post-Title 42 low of 4,000 per day to 8,000. And the number of people who have returned, while still not at the level of the Title 42 era, is also rising.

Some shelter operators in Mexico say that while they saw an initial decline after Title 42, the number of migrants returning to their side of the border is starting to rise.

“The reality is that more and more people have been turned back,” said Francisco Bueno, director of Casa del Migrante in Juárez, Mexico, just across from El Paso, Texas.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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