The Biden administration says it is “encouraged” by lower migrant numbers in the wake of the end of the Title 42 public health order, which it says is showing that its border measures are working — although officials are urging caution about drawing conclusions.
Department of Homeland Security official Blas Nunez-Neto told reporters that the daily average of illegal border encounters since the order expired on Thursday is just over 4,400 a day, including fewer than 4,000 in the last two days.
That represents a decrease of 56% in the four days preceding the end of the public health order — which allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Border Patrol had encountered over 10,000 migrants a day in the days leading up to the order’s termination.
He linked the drop in apprehensions to the Biden administration’s multi-part plan to deal with the surge, which includes a new asylum rule that makes many migrants ineligible for asylum if they cross illegally, as well as an increase in Title 8 penalties and greater cooperation with Mexico — along with an expansion of legal pathways for migrants into the U.S.
“I want to stress once again that it is still too soon to draw any firm conclusions here about where these trends will go in the coming days and weeks. And we continue to monitor the situation on our border and in Mexico and along the transit routes in real time,” he said.
He later repeated that warning: “I want to caution once again that while we are encouraged by these early results, we are just in the first week of this transition from Title 42 to Title 8 authorities, and we know that smugglers will continue to weaponize misinformation about changes in border policy to put migrants lives at risk for profit.“
Nunez-Neto said the top three nationalities are from Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala. Before the lifting of Title 42, the top three countries were Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia in that order.
The administration told the judge Monday that it had released over 6,400 migrants on Thursday alone under the policy — although it has denied it was engaged in the “mass release” of migrants.
Separately, Texas has taken a series of enforcement steps to stop illegal entry into the U.S., including building barbed wire barriers and blocking migrants from crossing into Texas. On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his state will be sending law enforcement, drones and National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.
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