US!Mexico border crossing arrests reach record highs: Reports

The Biden administration is facing growing criticism for its treatment of migrants seeking protection at its border.

US authorities reportedly detained 1.7 million migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border this fiscal year – marking an all-time high and highlighting the deepening political and humanitarian challenges the Biden administration is facing on immigration.

The figures apply for the 2021 fiscal year, which began last October, and were first reported by the Washington Post, and later confirmed by the Reuters news agency.

The numbers emerged amid increasing pressure on the administration of President Joe Biden over his handling of the growing number of migrants fleeing political instability, poverty and climate change making their way to the US’s southern border with Mexico.

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Earlier in his administration, which began in January, Biden reversed many of the hardline anti-immigration policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. He promised to put in place a more “humane” approach to immigration policy.

Biden’s Republican rivals have claimed Biden’s more welcoming tone has encouraged increasing numbers of migrants to make the trek to the US-Mexico border. They often refer to the situation at the border as “chaos” and a “crisis”.

In a stark example of the developments at the border, last month, nearly 15,000 mostly Haitian asylum seekers crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico and set up a makeshift camp under an international bridge in Del Rio, Texas hoping to claim asylum.

The Biden administration responded by emptying out the camp and expelling nearly 8,000 – according to a count by rights groups – to Haiti, a nation devastated by political crises and natural disasters. Thousands were released into the US immigration system to await hearings. Thousands of others, fearing deportation, returned to Mexico.

But Mexico has also been conducting deportation flights.

Immigration advocates, as well as Democratic leaders, have slammed Biden for the swift expulsions of many of those migrants back to Haiti, a country they said is rife with dangers and is not equipped to handle deportees.

The administration also launched an investigation into the tactics at the border, after videos and pictures circulated showing patrol agents on horseback using whip-like reins in Del Rio to push back Haitians along the river bank.

Most of the Haitians were returned under “Title 42,” a healthcare restriction used by Trump that Biden has kept in place. The policy was implemented in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to curb COVID infections and allows most migrants to be quickly expelled without a chance to seek asylum.

In a stark example of the developments at the border, last month, nearly 15,000 mostly Haitian asylum seekers crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico and set up a makeshift camp under an international bridge in Del Rio, Texas hoping to claim asylum.

The Biden administration responded by emptying out the camp and expelling nearly 8,000 – according to a count by rights groups – to Haiti, a nation devastated by political crises and natural disasters. Thousands were released into the US immigration system to await hearings. Thousands of others, fearing deportation, returned to Mexico.

But Mexico has also been conducting deportation flights.

Immigration advocates, as well as Democratic leaders, have slammed Biden for the swift expulsions of many of those migrants back to Haiti, a country they said is rife with dangers and is not equipped to handle deportees.

The administration also launched an investigation into the tactics at the border, after videos and pictures circulated showing patrol agents on horseback using whip-like reins in Del Rio to push back Haitians along the river bank.

Most of the Haitians were returned under “Title 42,” a healthcare restriction used by Trump that Biden has kept in place. The policy was implemented in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to curb COVID infections and allows most migrants to be quickly expelled without a chance to seek asylum.

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