HomeTop StoriesThe border crossings between the US and Mexico are closed, as Joe...

The border crossings between the US and Mexico are closed, as Joe Biden says, but the cause is difficult to pinpoint

Rack: “Thanks to the agreements I made with Mexican President Obrador, the number of migrants who have come unlawfully to our shared border in recent months has fallen dramatically.”

President Joe Biden issued a new directive on June 4 to limit the number of migrants seeking asylum at the southern US border.

Biden’s proclamation comes weeks before he and former President Donald Trump face off in their first presidential debate in 2024 and as they battle over their record on immigration policy.

The Biden administration’s directive suspends and restricts the entry of certain non-citizens into the U.S. across the southern border when the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that an average of 2,500 encounters or more have occurred at the border for seven consecutive days. To end the suspension, numbers would have to drop to an average of fewer than 1,500 encounters seven days in a row.

Encounter data represents events, not people. For example, if one person tries to cross the border three times and is stopped each time, that is counted as three encounters. This data also does not reveal how many people stayed in the US

The order takes effect immediately as there are currently more than 2,500 daily encounters, according to the administration.

In a speech on June 4, Biden said the number of meetings is already declining.

“The facts are clear: Thanks to the agreements I made with (Mexican) President (Andrés Manuel López) Obrador, the number of migrants unlawfully coming to our shared border has dropped dramatically in recent months,” Biden said. “While these steps are important, they are not enough to truly secure the border.”

We have noted that the number of encounters has decreased in recent months due to increased interceptions by Mexico. But immigration experts told PolitiFact it’s difficult to pinpoint one reason for any change in migration numbers.

The White House pointed to the latest publicly available U.S. Border Patrol data showing that immigration officials encountered about 128,900 people crossing the border illegally in April, compared to about 250,000 in December. That is a decrease of 48.4%. The number of encounters at ports of entry has also fallen.

At a May 13 news conference, López Obrador said the number of migrants reaching the southern U.S. border has fallen by about 50%.

Mexico’s crackdown on migrant crossings

David Bier, director of immigration studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Biden is right to attribute the border denial to actions by Mexico, but offered a caveat.

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“Mexico is making unprecedented arrests,” Bier said. “I believe this is untenable because while Mexico arrests them and sends them to southern Mexico, they do not deport them to their home countries. This means that it is very likely that they will eventually find their way to the United States because they are still in Mexico, and there is not much they can do other than keep trying to reach the US.”

U.S. officials said Mexico’s willingness to prevent migrants from entering the U.S. is largely due to increased dialogue between the two countries.

Biden and López Obrador have spoken several times since late 2023 and have released joint statements in recent months on joint efforts to curb immigration, fentanyl and firearms trafficking.

US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also went to Mexico in December to meet with their Mexican counterparts.

“As we made clear today in Mexico City, we are committed to working together with Mexico to address our shared challenges, including managing unprecedented irregular migration in the region, reopening key ports of entry and combating illegal fentanyl and other synthetic drugs,” Blinken said. wrote December 27 on X.

President Joe Biden speaks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials during a visit last year to El Paso.

President Joe Biden speaks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials during a visit last year to El Paso.

A White House summary of an April conversation between Biden and López Obrador said the two politicians instructed their national security teams to implement measures that would “significantly reduce the number of irregular border crossings” and address the root causes of the migration tackle.

U.S. immigration experts said it is difficult to isolate individual causes for any change in the number of arrivals at the border, but they agreed that Mexico has greatly increased its enforcement efforts following talks between the two countries.

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“However, there is no reason to believe this decline will be long-lasting, especially given the number of migrants likely currently stranded in Mexico,” said Adam Isacson, director of defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, a group that advocates human rights in America.

“No crackdown in the last decade has had a lasting impact, not even Title 42,” he said. Title 42 is a public health policy used during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the number of migrants entering the US

Whether the declines will continue is uncertain because migrants and migrant smugglers have proven “highly adaptable to changes in policies, processes, operations and even infrastructure,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, senior adviser for immigration and border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank. “We have not seen a sustained decline in arrivals following past policy changes.”

The data also does not reflect the changing demographics and nationalities of the people arriving, nor the factors that send them to the border.

Continued fluctuations in arrivals are expected if there is no consistent immigration policy to address the ongoing migration crisis, Brown said.

Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports low levels of immigration, said it is difficult to say how much Mexican actions have contributed to the decline, but that the numbers are still high: “It is possible that their actions matter, but even if they do, we have no idea whether Mexico will continue to take action, nor do we know whether the smugglers and migrants will simply adapt and the modest decline will disappear.”

PolitiFact’s statement

Biden said: “Thanks to the agreements I made with President Obrador, the number of migrants who have come unlawfully to our shared border in recent months has dropped dramatically.”

U.S. Border Patrol data shows that the number of encounters with immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border has decreased in recent months. Immigration experts said it is difficult to pinpoint a single reason for any change in border crossings, but they acknowledged that the decline is the result of greater cooperation between the two countries. Biden’s statement is correct, but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it as mostly true.

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PolitiFact Staff writers Maria Ramirez Uribe and Maria Briceño contributed to this report.

Our sources

  • The White House, President Biden’s Remarks on Securing Our Border, June 4, 2024

  • The White House, a proclamation on securing the border, June 4, 2024

  • The White House, FACT SHEET: President Biden announces new actions to secure the border. June 4, 2024

  • The White House, reading of President Joe Biden’s call with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, February 3, 2024

  • The White House, joint statement by President of the United States Joe Biden and President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador, April 29, 2024

  • Email interview, Angelo Fernandez Hernandez, White House spokesperson, June 4, 2024

  • Email interview, David Bier, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, June 4, 2024

  • Email interview, Theresa Cardinal Brown, senior adviser on immigration and border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, June 4, 2024

  • Email interview, Steven Camarota, Research Director, Center for Immigration Studies, June 4, 2024

  • Email interview, Adam Isacson, Director of Defense Oversight, WOLA, September 2023 and June 4, 2024

  • US Customs and Border Protection, Southwest Land Border Encounters, accessed June 4, 2024

  • US Customs and Border Protection, CBP releases April 2024 monthly update, May 15, 2024

  • US Customs and Border Protection, CBP releases December 2023 monthly update, January 26, 2024

  • The Washington Post, Quieter border eases pressure on Biden, with a hand from Mexico, March 8, 2024

  • CBS News, Migrant crossings fell in March, with US officials acknowledging Mexico’s actions, April 5, 2024

  • The Washington Post, Quieter border eases pressure on Biden, with a hand from Mexico, March 8, 2024

  • NBC, Mexico now stops nearly three times as many migrants, limiting U.S. border crossings, May 15, 2024

  • CBS News, Number of migrants crossing US-Mexico border down 54% from record highs, internal figures show, May 23, 2024

  • NBC, Biden signs executive order to dramatically tighten border, June 4, 2024

  • The Associated Press, President Biden says he is taking action to limit asylum to help ‘control’ the border, June 4, 2024

  • Politico, Biden issues new executive action: Much of southern border to close at midnight, June 4, 2024

  • WOLA, The futility of ‘closing asylum’ through executive action at the US-Mexico border, June 4, 2024

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: PolitiFact: US-Mexico border crossings are down, as Joe Biden says

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