June 6, 2024

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Daily Border Links are following a sporadic publication schedule between May 3 and July 19. Due to staff travel, this is the last daily update for a while. Regular daily updates will return on July 22.

Developments

The Biden administration’s new proclamation and rule curtailing asylum access at the U.S.-Mexico border, which it calls “Securing the Border,” went into effect at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, June 5. A leaked ICE implementation guidance is also available.

For explanations of the new rule’s provisions, implementation, and likely outcomes, see analyses from WOLA, the American Immigration Council, Human Rights Watch, the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, the Cato Institute, and a coalition of legal and human rights groups. The American Immigration Council also published an in-depth explainer.

For migrants who cross the border between ports of entry, fail to specifically ask for protection (known as the “shout test”), or cannot prove a very high standard of fear of return, the legal right to asylum is now suspended until the daily border-wide average of Border Patrol migrant apprehensions drops below 1,500.

The last month with an average that low was July 2020, in the early moments of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporters from the New York Times and CBS News tweeted that Border Patrol apprehended about 4,300 people on Tuesday June 4 and about 4,000 on Wednesday June 5. The daily average in May, one of the Biden administration’s lightest months, was about 3,800. The Washington Post cited internal DHS projections expecting an average of 3,900 to 6,700 apprehensions per day between July and September.

Should the daily average ever drop below 1,500, the rule would suspend the asylum restriction until the average once again climbs above 2,500.

The new measures add to the Biden administration’s May 2023 “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” asylum ban, which already denied asylum to non-Mexican citizens who crossed between ports of entry, cannot prove a higher standard of fear, and did not have an asylum application turned down in another country along the way.

It is unclear whether the new rule resulted in increased returns or deportations of migrants yesterday—a briefing from DHS officials offered no numbers—and if so, how they were carried out.

“We intend to challenge this order in court,” the ACLU announced. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council noted that the ACLU “successfully blocked” a similar “2018 Trump asylum ban within days.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), the principal Democratic negotiator on an unsuccessful “border deal” that sought to legislate a similar asylum limit, said “I am sympathetic to the position the administration is in, but I am skeptical the executive branch has the legal authority to shut down asylum processing between ports of entry on its own.”

A UNHCR statement voiced “profound concern” about the Biden administration’s new rule.

The administration’s announcements did not refer to increased capacity to implement its new barriers to asylum seekers. That would involve costly measures like more asylum officers for expedited removal proceedings, more detention space, or more capacity to deport migrants (more flights, or permission from Mexico to deport more non-Mexican citizens by land). Three DHS officials told the Washington Post that “the administration has not scheduled a short-term increase in deportation flights to ramp up the number of migrants returned to their home countries under the new measures.”

The New York Times’s Hamed Aleaziz reported that when asylum seekers in custody try to prove that they meet higher standards of fear of return (called “reasonable probability” of harm), they will have just four hours to find legal representation. “Migrants previously had at least 24 hours or more to find a lawyer.”

Reports from the border documented worry and perplexity among migrants. Migrants passing through the northern state of Durango told Milenio that the U.S. policy change did not alter their plans. “We do not have a plan, and we cannot return. This is a low blow,” a 64-year-old man from Colombia told the Guardian in Ciudad Juárez. Some told the Guardian that they are now considering crossing through the dangerous nearby desert. Shelter operators in northern Mexican border cities braced for new strains on their capacity.

Coverage of the new rule’s political and electoral implications found progressive Democrats outraged by the rollback of asylum rights; most Republicans claiming it is “too little, too late” and doesn’t do enough to stop migrants from arriving; and centrist Democrats—especially those from tightly contested states or districts—supporting it.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters that, in a June 4 conversation with President Biden, he encouraged Biden to deport non-Mexican migrants directly, not into Mexico: “Why do they come to Mexico? We have no problem, we treat migrants very well, all of them, but why triangulate?” (Mexico accepts up to a combined 30,000 U.S. deportations per month of citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.)

Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens tweeted that the agency has documented more than 300 deaths of migrants on U.S. soil since the fiscal year began in October, with the hot summer months just beginning.

Mexican migration agents and National Guard personnel carried out a June 5 operation to evict migrants from a plaza near the Mexico City headquarters of the country’s refugee agency, COMAR.

The Panamanian government’s human rights ombudsman filed a criminal complaint about more than 400 alleged cases of sexual violence perpetrated against migrants in the Darién Gap region. Before Panama’s Health Ministry suspended its permission to operate in March, Doctors Without Borders had been documenting these cases.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The Washington Post reported on the Texas state government’s intense campaign to shut down El Paso’s Annunciation House migrant shelter.

“Though there’s little to be done now about this recycled immigration policy” at the border, President Biden “could use his executive power to shield immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally,” argued Andrea Flores of Fwd.us in a New York Times column.

A feature at the Guardian told the stories of five asylum seekers’ difficult and even traumatic passage through the U.S. asylum system.

The New York Times reported on how the San Diego region has been impacted by a notable increase in migration over the past several months.

An Inter-American Dialogue slide presentation cited “1145 charter flights of at least 150 passengers en route to the Mexico-US border” landing in Managua, Nicaragua between July 2023 and January 2024.

The Catholic Charities humanitarian migrant respite center in McAllen, which receives people released from CBP custody, commemorated ten years of operations. Headed by Sister Norma Pimentel, the well-known shelter was a response to the first major arrival of child and family asylum seekers, which at the time was mostly Central American citizens arriving largely in south Texas.

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