U.S. halts illegal border crossings after Title 42 expiration with threats of criminal prosecution
Mayorkas said the drop in migrant encounters was due to the Biden administration’s clear message to migrants who are crossing the border
May 15, 2023 9:00am
Updated: May 15, 2023 9:00am
Migrant crossings at the southern border dropped this weekend, days after the pandemic-era immigration regulation Title 42 was lifted, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“The numbers we have experienced over the past few days are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN on “State of the Union.”
“It is still early. We are in day three, but we have been planning for this transition for months and months. And we have been executing on our plan. And we will continue to do so,” Mayorkas said. “It is too early. But the numbers that we have experienced over the past two days are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42.”
Mayorkas said that border authorities have “experienced a 50% drop in the number of encounters.” According to statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, officials encountered around 4,200 undocumented migrants on Saturday and 6,300 on Friday and 4,200 on Saturday compared to the 11,000 stopped on Tuesday and Wednesday and 10,000 on Thursday.
Title 42, implemented under the Trump administration in 2020, allows border officials to quickly expel asylum seekers at the border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The policy expired at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.
With the ending of Title 42 this week, U.S. authorities estimate that around 13,000 to 18,000 undocumented migrants will attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border every day—a figure that could lead to more than 4.7 million migrants over the next year.
“We’ve been planning for this transition for months and months and we’ve been executing on our plan, and we will continue to do so,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas said the drop in migrant encounters was due to the Biden administration’s clear message to migrants who are crossing the border, including warnings about the possible consequences they will face if they cross illegally.
Before Title 42 expired, some Democrats were concerned about whether the Biden administration could handle a potential increase in the number of asylum-seekers.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Sunday that Title 42 had to expire under law because the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“The president doesn’t have discretion to keep Title 42 in place,” he said.
Mayorkas said the U.S. will continue to admonish potential border crossers there may be criminal penalties if they try to enter the country illegally.
“We have communicated very clearly, a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our southern border,” he said.
“There is a lawful, safe, and orderly way to arrive in the United States that is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way. And then there’s a consequence if one does not use those lawful pathways. And that consequence is removal from the United States, a deportation and encountering a five-year ban on reentry and possible criminal prosecution.”