EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Immigration advocates are calling on the Biden administration not to resort to hardline border control measures once Title 42 expulsions end on Dec. 21.
Their plea comes in response to a news report by Axios stating the administration is considering prosecuting more single adults who come across between ports of entry and expelling others who have not first sought legal entry or applied for protection in other countries. This, out of fear the rollback of Title 42, will create a perception abroad that U.S. borders are open and lead to additional migration, Axios reported.
“The Axios report raises grave concerns that the Biden administration is considering adopting a range of policies that would trample on refugee rights and due process. If this is the case, the administration must reverse course immediately,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First.
She said the group and other organizations have tracked more than 10,000 crimes committed abroad against those the U.S. expelled on Title 42 grounds in recent years and that migrants would fare no better with the policies being considered.
Hundreds of migrants have also died in the past year from falls and drownings at the border or due to crime and natural causes exacerbated by poor health conditions in third countries like Mexico.
“Restoring asylum at the border and safe routes of protection are the only answer here, not policies that ban refugees from asylum and deliver them to kidnappers,” Acer said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
She and other advocates said immigration enforcement-only tactics have proven ineffective at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We have invested over and over on massive programs of deterrence. […] Despite the boots on the ground, despite the wall, people still keep coming,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of El Paso’s Hope Border Institute. “Many of the people we work with from Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Venezuela … they’re not just seeking a better life; they’re seeking life. And that’s not going to stop.”
Corbett also suggested the government prepare for the rollback of Title 42 by investing instead on “welcoming centers” to process asylum-seekers efficiently and humanely.
The latest data from U.S. Customs and Border Report shows 230,678 migrant encounters in October at the Southwest border, an increase of 1.3 percent over September. More than 4 million unauthorized border crossings have been reported in the last two years. Several government processing centers remain at or near capacity, leading to street releases of migrants in communities like El Paso, Eagle Pass and Del Rio.
Republican House leaders are warning that the rollback of Title 42, which was implemented in March 2020 by the Trump administration to prevent cross-border spread of COVID-19, will lead to a “tsunami” of new migrants coming across the border.