Illegal border crossings in Arizona plunged by 90% in December 2019 after the Trump administration changed a federal policy that forced asylum seekers to be expelled from the United States pending their adjudication hearings.
“Arrests in the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector nearly hit 14,000 in May, when the policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico took effect there. By October, they fell 94%, to less than 800, and have stayed there since, making Yuma the second-slowest of the agency’s nine sectors on the Mexican border, just ahead of the perennially quiet Big Bend sector in Texas.
Illegal crossings in western Arizona have swung sharply before, and there are several reasons for the recent drop. But Anthony Porvaznik, chief of the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, said the so-called Migration Protection Protocols have been a huge deterrent, based on agents’ interviews with people arrested.
“Their whole goal was to be released into the United States, and once that was taken off the shelf for them, and they couldn’t be released into the United States anymore, then that really diminished the amount of traffic that came through here,” Porvaznik said.
The Trump administration last year ordered that Mexicans who enter the United States illegally should be returned deep into the country’s interior in an effort to solve the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In years past, foreigners who illegally entered the United States were simply released into Mexico right at the border — or sometimes released in the United States with an order to appear at court months later (few did). Then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started to fly illegal aliens from Tucson, Ariz., to Guadalajara, almost 1,000 miles away.
“Officials say the migrants being returned are all Mexican nationals from non-border Mexican states who typically have either recently illegally entered the U.S., or who had gone through the court system but were ruled to be deportable by an immigration judge,” Fox News reported.
DHS says it plans to run two flights a week starting at the end of January and expects to return about 250 migrants a week. Officials say the move has been requested by the Mexican government, with which the U.S. has been working for months to stem the border crisis — which peaked in May but still concerns officials.
“This is another example of the Trump Administration working with the Government of Mexico to address the ongoing border security crisis,” DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift told Fox News. “Mexico has been a great partner in stopping illegal migration before they reach our border and in standing up the Migrant Protection Protocol which has allowed us to provide court dates to more than 55,000 individuals.”
The administration in December set in place a new rule that stems from new “Asylum Cooperative Agreements” (ACA) with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Under the new agreements, the three Central American countries are required to stop foreigners from attempting to get to the U.S.-Mexico border. Should a country fail to do so, and foreigners are eventually apprehended at the U.S. border, the U.S. government can send the foreigners back to the country through which they immigrated. The move follows a rise in “caravans,” huge groups of Central Americans crossing numerous borders to get to the United States.
“The United States recently signed bilateral ACAs with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an effort to share the distribution of asylum claims,” the new rule states. In an attempt to share the burden, “this interim rule is intended to aid the United States in its negotiations with foreign nations on migration issues.”
“Specifically, the rule will aid the United States as it seeks to develop a regional framework with other countries to more equitably distribute the burden of processing the protection claims of the hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants who now seek to enter the United States every year and claim a fear of return. Addressing the eligibility for asylum of aliens who enter or attempt to enter the United States will better position the United States as it engages in ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) regarding migration issues in general, and related measures employed to curtail the irregular flow of aliens into the United States,” the policy says.
As part of the new policy, the three countries will receive increased law enforcement and monetary assistance from the U.S., including hundreds of millions of dollars the Trump administration has not passed along as the border crisis surged.
The new rule follows another policy Trump put in place earlier this year. The administration enacted the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which became known as the “Remain In Mexico” policy. The protocols require that foreigners who enter the U.S. illegally be processed, then released into Mexico — not the United States — to await their hearings.
Instead of waiting, though, thousands of migrants who were returned to Mexico gave up their asylum claims and went home, Fox News reported.
So far, the administration has returned more than 55,000 migrants to Mexico. The assessment describes the policy as an “indispensable tool in addressing the ongoing crisis at the southern border and restoring integrity to the immigration system.” It says that it has completed almost 13,000 cases as of Oct. 21.
The new assessment, significantly, cites estimates from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that approximately 20,000 migrants are currently being sheltered in Mexico near the U.S. border as they still seek entry to the U.S. The assessment says that number, though, suggests “a significant proportion of the 55,000+ MPP returnees have chosen to abandon their claims.”
In an assessment of the Migrant Protection Protocols filed last month, the government said, “At peak of the crisis in May 2019, there were more than 4,800 aliens crossing the border daily — representing an average of more than three apprehensions per minute.”