On Wednesday, Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in a public event to accuse President Biden of neglecting national security when it comes to border enforcement. At least 31 Republican Congressional representatives attended the event, which had the makings of a miniature campaign rally despite his loss to Biden in the 2020 election. Trump’s visit to the border came as arrests at the southwest border had risen to the highest monthly levels in the past two decades.
Six emergency housing facilities in Texas and California are set to close in the coming weeks as the number of unaccompanied children in U.S. custody has begun to slowly decrease. This is a result of efforts made to expedite the process of releasing children to family in the U.S., as well as declining border apprehensions. The number of children held at emergency sites has also decreased.
On Friday, Vice President Harris made her first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she toured the El Paso central processing center, and spoke with border agents and migrant children. This trip comes in the wake of months of criticism from Republicans, as well as prior trips to Mexico and Guatemala. During her visit, she blamed the Trump administration for leaving the new administration in a tough situation, but applauding their own progress so far. Some activists expressed disappointment that her visit took place in El Paso, where far fewer asylum seeking families have been forced to wait on the other side of the border. Her trip also did not include a visit to Fort Bliss. Harris continued to reinforce the need to address the root causes of migration, including violence, corruption, poverty, and food insecurity.
The Biden administration has forced Border Patrol head Rodney Scott out of office, to be replaced by Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz on an interim basis. Scott published a statement on social media claiming he had received a letter offering him the option to resign, retire, or relocate, with no additional rationale on his removal. Many were surprised Scott had been allowed to remain in his position this long into Biden’s presidential term.
The Biden administration is scaling up its dismantlement of MPP, allowing those asylum seekers who had had their cases closed or removed in absentia to come to the U.S. to pursue their original asylum claims. Since February, around 12,000 migrants have been able to enter the U.S. with pending MPP cases, and this change in policy should greatly scale up the number of migrants allowed to pursue their asylum claims from within the U.S. Still, for many asylum seekers, this policy change comes far too late, many migrants under MPP being victims of rape, kidnapping, and assault. The Biden administration has been criticized for its slowness in dismantling MPP and restoring proper access to asylum seekers.
Testimonials from a court case on Monday revealed inadequate and unlivable conditions for migrant children being held in emergency shelters along the border. The testimonials described overcrowding, spoiled food, a lack of clean clothes, and an absence of mental health resources available for the children, many of whom are struggling with depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Some children have been held for months in these emergency shelters. Despite the Biden administration’s promises of a more human approach to immigration, many testimonials indicate that they are struggling to provide for these children’s most basic needs.
Nebraska joins Florida as the second country to agree to send state troopers to Texas to assist with border security and law enforcement. The two dozen state troopers will arrive in Texas later this month and stay for up to 16 days.
TRAC of Syracuse University released new data revealing a significant slow down in asylum cases being transferred out of MPP and over to U.S. immigration courts. During the month of May, only 1,988 cases were transferred out of MPP, which is down 55% from the 4,476 cases transferred out the previous month. It seems it is becoming more and more difficult to locate and identify the migrants living in border towns who should be allowed entry into the U.S.
The Biden administration has resumed lateral expulsion flights, transporting migrants crossing the border in high-traffic areas to lower density regions. This practice has been largely criticized by immigration advocates as many times immigrants are led to believe that they will be staying in the U.S., only to be dropped off in an unfamiliar area where they do not necessarily have any resources or connections. DHS had previously suspended lateral expulsions as a part of the ongoing negotiations over Title 42, and for now will only be placing single adult migrants on lateral flights.
On Wednesday, June 16th, Attorney General Merrick Garland reversed the Trump-era decision which prevented people from seeking asylum due to credible fear of domestic abuse or mass violence. This decision reinstitutes gang violence and domestic abuse survivors as a special social group which allows them to seek asylum in the U.S. This will affect thousands of migrants, as many domestic abuse and gang violence survivors have immigrated to the U.S. since 2013 and many of those cases are still being adjudicated.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida plans to send state law enforcement officers to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas, claiming the migrant “crisis” has led to increased criminal activity in Florida. This makes Florida the first state to respond to a joint letter sent out by Arizona and Texas governors asking that the other states send them additional personnel and resources to help with border security. This has also prompted sheriffs from seven Florida counties to send deputies and officers to the border as well. DeSantis offered few other details about this border security effort.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state will be making plans to build its own wall along its border with Mexico, in light of President Biden’s plans to pull back on border wall construction. Currently, the state has an initial $250 million in funds for this project. Abbott also stated plans to build more jails along the southern border to hold detained migrants on trespassing charges. The governor has revealed little other information regarding how long the wall would be, where it would be built, or how much the entire project would cost. Federal lawmakers have said that border wall construction in Texas had cost about $26.5 million per mile, and in some areas along the border up to $46 million per mile.
The Biden administration announced major expansions to the Central American Minors program, which would allow Central American children to be reunited with family members already living in the U.S. This could mean that tens of thousands of Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran children would be able to legally immigrate to the U.S. This decision will expand both the cases of children who are allowed to seek entry, as well as the categories of adults who can petition for children to join them.
The Biden administration announced a plan to return more than $2 billion in funding which had been diverted from Pentagon projects to be used for border wall construction. Construction on the border wall has been suspended since the beginning of Biden’s presidency, though the border wall project has yet to be cancelled completely. The $1.9 million which had been previously appropriated by Congress for the project will be used for drainage and erosion control or any other environmental damage caused by wall construction.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration along Texas’ border with Mexico in response to the ongoing migration surge, authorizing all available state resources to assist state and local law enforcement in border security processes. Abbott is a harsh critic of the Biden administration’s approach to border policy.
The U.S.-Mexico border is seeing record numbers of Venezuelan migrants—an estimated over 6,000 migrants crossed the border last month, a sharp contrast to the fewer than 1,000 migrants that have crossed the border each year for the past decade. Typically, Venezuelans have flown into the U.S. but are not taking much more desperate measures to seek entry as Venezuela’s human rights crisis deepens.
In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a law used by California’s 9th Circuit Court, which assumes credibility for immigrants seeking asylum, cannot be reconciled with Congressional law. The 9th Circuit Court had previously operated under the assumption that, unless there was explicit evidence refuting an applicant’s credibility, asylum seekers were telling the truth. But, under federal law, immigration judges have the power to weigh in on conflicting accounts and decide whether an applicant is entitled to asylum. This is the second time in two weeks that the Supreme Court unanimously reversed a decision made by the 9th Circuit Court on an issue relating to immigration law.
The U.S. formally terminates the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico”, or MPP, policy. The program had been on a ‘pause’ since near the beginning of Biden’s presidency, and has now been formally put to rest because of its inability to “adequately or sustainably enhance border management,” according to a DHS memo. Title 42 still remains in place.