Scores of immigration advocacy groups slammed the Biden administration’s “cruel, unlawful and ineffective” policy that involves sending migrants arrested at the US-Mexican border to southern Mexico, saying it leaves many families with children fending for themselves in remote jungle outposts.
More than 100 organizations sent a letter to President Biden and top White House officials last week to voice their “profound disappointment” in ramping up prosecutions of families arriving at the border and expelling them to Mexico.
“Far from fulfilling its commitment to build a ‘safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,’ your administration continues to pursue cruel, unlawful, and ineffective deterrence-based policies that extend rather than dismantle the previous administration’s approach to migration,” the groups wrote in the missive.
“We are gravely concerned by reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to send 24 expulsion flights per month of Central American families and adults seeking protection at the U.S.-Mexico border to southern Mexico. In the last week, hundreds of migrants expelled on the first such flights have reportedly been denied access to protection and forced by Mexican authorities into remote areas of Guatemala,” the letter continued.
The organizations — including Amnesty International USA, Refugees International and the National Immigration Project — called on the administration to end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 policy that blocks asylum seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic and to stop the expulsion flights.
“These expulsions make a mockery of public health and human rights as they intentionally and systematically return people to harm in violation of U.S. law and international obligations of non-refoulement,” the groups said in the letter.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the new policy last week, saying it would make it harder for migrants expelled under Title 42 to return to the US border, as the number of border crossings hit 212,672 in July — the highest in 21 years.
Customs and Border Patrol have said there have been more than 1.1 million border crossing attempts so far this year.
Mayorkas was caught on a recording telling border agents in Texas that the situation at the border “cannot continue.”
“A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said, ‘Look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,’” Mayorkas told them. “We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
Many of the Central Americans flown into southern Mexico find themselves with few resources and little money after they are dumped at remote outposts near the Guatemalan border.
Andres Toribio, who runs a shelter in El Ceibo, Guatemala, told the Associated Press that many of the people who show up have no idea where they are and many aren’t even from Guatemala, but are Honduran and Salvadorans.
He said the migrant shelter has been overrun by the sudden influx of people being expelled by the US.
“We have capacity for 30 people. Yesterday we received 100,” he told the wire service. “We’re talking about those that Mexico’s immigration expels and the ones they’re sending on the (US) flights every day, some 500 migrants left here at the border.”
Toribio said the people — mainly women and children — become victims of “all kinds of abuse in the street” by human traffickers.
Biden has been criticized for rolling back many of former President Trump’s immigration policies, including stopping the building of the border wall, and opening the floodgates at the border.
But the president continued the Title 42 that first began under the previous administration.
White House spokesman Vedant Patel told Reuters that the Biden administration is following recommendations from health experts and the CDC.