AUSTIN, Texas — Mexico has barred the United States from sending migrant families back across the border, using emergency measures put in place at the start of the pandemic, the Washington Examiner has learned, a development that threatens to exacerbate the border crisis.
The decision to prohibit a great number of non-Mexican migrant families from returning to Mexico is expected to force Border Patrol to release more people into the U.S. because it lacks space at existing facilities to hold the thousands coming into custody daily.
More than 20,000 people were encountered last week in the busiest of the border’s nine regions, the Rio Grande Valley. It marked the most people ever apprehended in a week in the region.
Late last week, Mexico quietly began refusing to accept certain groups of migrant families who were caught at the border. The groups were families taken into custody crossing the border in one area but pushed back into Mexico hundreds of miles away on another part of the border, a senior Customs and Border Protection official told the Washington Examiner, confirming a local report.
For example, because the Tamaulipas state of Mexico across from the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas stopped allowing many families to be returned earlier this year, the Border Patrol began flying migrants to El Paso, Texas. Once in El Paso, the families are pushed back into Mexico. That will no longer be possible, as an unspecified number of Mexican states along the border have stopped accepting families returning from a different state from where they initially crossed.
A spokeswoman for Mexico’s National Institute of Migration declined to comment.
As the pandemic struck in March 2020, the U.S. opted to stop taking illegal immigrants into custody and instead began turning them away at the border. Over the past 17 months, hundreds of thousands of people who illegally came over the southern border were sent back to Mexico. The expulsions, known as Title 42, were at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and were implemented to avoid placing migrants in cramped facilities where the coronavirus could quickly spread.
The new policies in Mexico mean the situation has changed.
“Mexico won’t accept title 42 from other areas along the border,” the official wrote the Washington Examiner.
When Biden took office, Mexico stopped allowing families with older children to be returned to Mexico. It meant Border Patrol could not turn them away, adding to the number of illegal immigrants coming over the border. Biden vowed to stop expelling families but has not done so.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued over Biden’s expulsions of families but paused the legal action after the Biden administration vowed to end it soon. The ACLU moved Monday to bar the U.S. from expelling families, though the move may be irrelevant since Mexico has refused to accept back many migrant families.
The amount of migrants in custody has risen as Mexico began refusing families. On July 31, more than 6,600 migrants were held in border facilities meant to hold fewer than 1,000 people, according to NBC News. To process people as they are encountered at the border more efficiently, the Border Patrol is increasingly releasing people and will begin having Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency responsible for detaining and deporting illegal immigrants, intake people at the border.
ICE has largely avoided detaining families since President Joe Biden took office because the Border Patrol has opted to release people instead of transferring families to ICE, where the families can legally only be held for up to 20 days. ICE has doled out $87 million to hold migrants in hotels for several days before releasing them.
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While people who are taken in by the Border Patrol are not required to be given coronavirus tests, ICE will administer tests and provide vaccines, NBC reported.
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Original Author: Anna Giaritelli
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