More Troops and More Promises
It will be a busy week this week as I will be at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference all week seeking what is new in the world of hurricane response. I am sure there will be plenty to write about and I also am looking forward to the interview I did with Actor James Dickey to follow up on the “Fighting The Fire” movie blog from last week.
In the meantime, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that authorities faced “extremely challenging” circumstances along the border with Mexico with only a few days left of the pandemic-related asylum restrictions end.
A surge of Venezuelan migrants through South Texas, particularly in and around Brownsville, has occurred over the last two weeks for reasons that Mayorkas said were unclear. On Thursday, 4,000 of about 6,000 migrants in Border Patrol custody in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were Venezuelan.
Mexico has agreed to take back Venezuelans who enter illegally from Mexico after the restrictions end but this poses more issues as there will still be a great need for processors, transporters and law enforcement. Venezuelans are not the only nationality showing up in force along the border as we see record numbers of Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans.
Mayorkas reaffirmed plans to finalize a new policy by Thursday that will make it extremely difficult for migrants to seek asylum if they pass through another country, like Mexico, on their way to the U.S. border.
While things have slowed some at the border, Brandon Judd, President of the national Border Patrol Council said the incoming has been hovering at about 7200 per week this last month.
It is official. 1500+ active duty troops will be dispatched to El Paso which will add to the 2500 troops already positioned along the border.
El Paso was obviously chosen because it has been a busy corridor for illegal crossings over the last six months. The troop deployment was announced last week but only now have we learned the location.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged those who want to migrate to follow legal pathways, such as applying in U.S. processing centers scheduled to open in Guatemala and Colombia. He said Mexico was not making special preparations for the end of Title 42 because he didn’t expect a surge, a mistake that I believe will become evident all too soon. Obrador, as I have written before, is not exactly a man of action nor does he want to create any more waves than necessary across his cartel-torn country.
Doubt prevails here at this writer’s desk as Mayorkas claims “We have a plan, we are executing on that plan”. We have heard this confidence before from the same administration and have just spent the last 18 months with the highest immigration counts on record.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Friday that it is raising the number of people admitted to the country at land crossings with Mexico to 1,000 a day from 740 using a mobile app called CBPOne that was extended in January to asylum-seekers. Demand has far outweighed available slots.
We are already seeing problems with the new “plan” as Columbians set for return to their country are now staying temporarily because Colombia said Thursday that it suspended deportation flights from the U.S. due to “cruel and degrading” treatment of migrants.
Colombia’s immigration agency said it canceled returns of 1,200 Colombians after complaints about conditions in U.S. detention centers and on the flights. The setback automatically creates a greater need for sheltering and of course, finances to house the immigrants who cannot return home nor can they be released in the United States.
If this is all confusing, here is a brief explanation to catch you up:
For more than two years, the Biden administration kept in place at the U.S. southern border a Trump administration order using a public health policy known as Title 42. The policy allowed the U.S. to quickly expel migrants to their countries of origin or Mexican border towns. Title 42 was implemented in March 2020; since then, migrants have been expelled more than 2.7 million times, many of them more than once.
On April 1, 2022, the administration announced the policy would end on May 23, 2022, giving U.S. officials time to prepare for what they expected to be an increase in migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. But 19 Republican-led states were against lifting Title 42 and fought to keep it in place through various lawsuits.
In January of this year, with COVID-related deaths and cases declining, the administration announced that a Public Health Emergency declared in March 2020 would end on May 11, ending with it several extraordinary measures including the rationale for keeping Title 42 in place.
To keep the existing policy in place, immigration advocates said, the Biden administration would need to issue a new Title 42 order or reverse its decision to lift the Public Health Emergency on May 11.
U.S. immigration officials estimate that starting in May, migrant arrivals along the U.S.-Mexico border could increase to 10,000 to 13,000 a day from the current 5,000 to 8,000.
The troops being sent to the border will do “ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support. … Military personnel will not directly participate in law enforcement activities.
The administration recently announced it would open immigration processing centers in Latin America to provide migrants access to legal pathways to the U.S., including the refugee admissions resettlement program, and pre-screening for other programs such as parole, family reunification or existing labor pathways.
U.S. immigration officials have said that after May 11, all migrants who make the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border will be processed under Title 8, the existing federal law covering immigration. Those arriving at the border without documents or trying to enter between ports of entry can be removed without their cases being decided by an immigration court, which are called expedited removal proceedings.
So, watch for more installments as I head to the hurricane conference and hopefully learn a few things! If you happen to be attending and would like to connect, please reach out now so we can set something in the schedule!