US quietly expands asylum limits while preparing to end them


The Biden administration has begun deporting Cubans and Nicaraguans from the U.S. to Mexico under pandemic-related powers to deny migrants the opportunity to seek asylum, officials said Wednesday. use this rule even if they openly say they are trying to loosen it.

The United States reached an agreement with Mexico to deport up to 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans per day from three locations: San Diego; El Paso, Texas; and the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the effort.

The official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been made public. They are made under the authority of Title 42, which is named for public health law and used to deport migrants on the pretext of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Title 42 will expire on May 23.

The United States and Mexico agreed April 26 to very limited deportations of Cubans and Nicaraguans, according to a senior Mexican official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly. It was driven by an increasing number of migrants from those two countries reaching the US border.

Another Mexican official, also not authorized to comment publicly, confirmed that up to 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans had been deported from San Diego under Title 42 under an agreement in effect through May 22. .

The US Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Until last week, Mexico had only agreed to accept Guatemalans, Honduras and El Salvador – in addition to Mexico – under Title 42 jurisdiction. Other nationalities are subject to Title 42 but the costs, strained diplomatic relations and balances Other reminders often make it difficult to bring them home.

Next, the US cannot deport migrants to Cuba or Nicaragua due to bad relations with those governments. That has posed a major challenge to the Biden administration as more and more people from those countries seek shelter in the United States.

Cubans were stopped more than 32,000 times by US authorities at the Mexican border in March, twice the number in February and more than five times the number in October, according to Customs and Border Protection. USA. Nicaragua eased travel restrictions from Cuba in November, making it easier for Cubans to continue by land to the US border. Most enter the United States in or near Yuma, Arizona, and Del Rio, Texas.

Last month, Cuba and the United States took a tentative step toward thawing relations and resuming joint efforts to tackle irregular migration in the highest-level talks between the two countries in four years. .

Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio said: “There has been no major breakthrough, but the fact that the US is holding substantive negotiations is a sign that relations are likely to get better under President Joe Biden after President Joe Biden. fell into a deep freeze under his predecessor, said Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio.

“They seem committed,” said Fernandez de Cossio. “They approved that they are committed to the agreements that were made.” “So we have no reason to trust what they are saying, but time will tell.”

Nicaraguans were stopped more than 16,000 times in March, more than double September’s level. Most immigration is in South Texas.

The Title 42 lift has been controversial as the midterm elections loom, even for Biden’s Democrats, amid concerns that the US is unprepared for the expected increase in number of migrants seeking asylum. Authorities stopped migrants more than 221,000 times in March, the highest level in 22 years.

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security have publicly stood behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end the measure because it can no longer be justified on the grounds of public health.

But the reality of deporting Cubans and Nicaraguans runs counter to the administration’s public statement that it is phasing out the use of pandemic powers in preparation for May 23. The Washington Post reported earlier. said on Wednesday that the United States and Mexico had reached an agreement to do so for Cubans and Nicaraguans.

The US has deported migrants more than 1.8 million times under Title 42 jurisdiction since March 2020, effectively exceeding their right to seek asylum under US law and international treaties. In doing so, migrants are not subject to immigration laws, including their rights to protection from persecution at home.

The administration said in court filings that it began processing more Central American adults under immigration law following the CDC’s announcement on April 1. But a federal judge in Louisiana ruled last week that it cannot initiate the cancellation of Title 42 while it is still in effect.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays strongly criticized the CDC’s decision, suggesting he would try to keep Title 42 in effect after May 23. A hearing is scheduled for May 13 to contest oral discussion.

Marisa Limon, senior director of advocacy and planning at the Borders Institute of Hope, said advocates began learning about the deportation of Cubans and Nicaraguans from El Paso on Monday and later. confirmed the new practice with US officials.

Limon said the administration is “trying to take it bit by bit from Title 42” before it expires. She calls it “saneness” but is consistent with the administration’s efforts to hold other countries in the Western Hemisphere more accountable for hosting people who have left their homes.


Sherman reports from Mexico City.

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