President Biden is quietly ramping up expulsions of migrants at the southern border under Title 42 just weeks before the Trump-era health policy is set to expire — and despite the administration’s public support of unwinding it.
Officials confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the US struck a deal with Mexico to expel up to 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans every day from border facilities in San Diego, El Paso and Rio Grande Valley.
Previously, Mexico only agreed to take Guatemalans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans and Mexicans under the policy.
The rush of expulsions began on April 27 and is set to expire on May 22 – one day before Title 42 is set to be officially lifted.
The order – which has been in place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, has allowed border officials to deny migrants entry after crossing the border without hearing asylum claims.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that it would be lifting the health policy – sparking concerns on both sides of the aisle over an expected massive increase in border crossings after it expires.
A high-level Mexican official told the outlet that the April deal came about following a higher number of migrants traveling to the US border from Cuba and Nicaragua. The expulsions are taking place via Title 42.
But even with Title 42 in place, border facilities have been seeing record numbers of crossings along the border in recent months.
Officials recorded more than 221,000 migrant encounters along the border for March alone – the highest number of any month during the Biden administration so far.
Specifically, officials stopped Cuban migrants more than 32,000 times – double the amount from February. Officials encountered Nicaraguan migrants over 16,000 times – approximately double from September.
The Biden administration has been heavily criticized for its decision to lift Title 42, with Democratic and Republican lawmakers urging President Biden to keep it in place, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and expected migrant surge.
This week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that as many as 18,000 migrants could cross the border daily if the health regulation ends.