Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports processing nearly 10,000 undocumented Ukrainians and more than 5,000 undocumented Russians at the border, showing that the U.S. immigration system CAN process large numbers of people at the border. Tens of thousands more who had documents also entered the United States since February 24. If processing were more efficient, even more could be admitted: right now, volunteers are managing temporary camps and lists of Ukrainians in Tijuana as they wait to be admitted. Most Ukrainians are granted one-year humanitarian paroles when they are interviewed at the border.
If U.S. authorities can process Ukrainian asylum seekers at the border, they can also process asylum seekers from Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, Cameroon, Cuba, and anywhere else.
[CBS] “Between February 1 and April 6, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported encountering 9,926 Ukrainians who lacked legal documentation needed to enter the country, the unpublished agency statistics show. On April 6 alone, 767 Ukrainian migrants were processed by CBP. …
“Between February 1 and April 6, CBP also reported 41,074 “legal entries” of Ukrainians who had permission to enter the U.S., which can include visas the U.S. awards to short-term travelers, including tourists, or immigrants allowed to live in the U.S. permanently, the internal agency data show. …
“Faced with limited direct pathways to reach the U.S., thousands of Ukrainians have embarked on a days-long trek to Mexico that typically involves several flights to reach the U.S. southern border, where officials have been directed to consider admitting Ukrainians, despite pandemic-era entry restrictions for other migrants. …
“The internal CBP statistics also show an increase in Russians entering U.S. border custody, with the agency reporting processing 5,207 migrants from Russia since February 1. Just over 2,000 Russians entered CBP custody in February, including 769 migrants along the Mexican border, according to agency figures.”
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick sums it up in a tweet: “Here’s what’s staggering: the overwhelming majority have been processed through the San Ysidro port of entry, in numbers larger than we’ve seen that port of entry process in nearly 6 years. This proves that we *can* process asylum seekers in large numbers at ports of entry.”
Lifting the Title 42 ban on immigration means that the United States may once again comply with its own laws on asylum AND that the United States will face a backlog of asylum seekers and other immigrants. That’s a backlog created by our own violation of our own asylum laws.
[The Hill] “Title 42, crafted under the Trump administration in the early days of the pandemic, used a public health authority to quickly expel foreign nationals without giving them the chance to seek asylum.
“It’s a policy that directly contravenes asylum law, which grants the right to a hearing for asylum claims. …
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is already preparing for such a surge, a move they said could result from Title 42 as well as a preference by some to migrate in the spring, when milder weather can aid a still dangerous journey. …
“‘Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can have a secure border and a fair and functional asylum system. We can be humane and orderly. Let’s be who we are as a party and a nation, rather than emboldening a party that seeks to dehumanize immigrants and refugees to score political points,’ added [Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice].'”
And in other news
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has disrupted border traffic, claiming that increased inspections are needed because of Biden administration immigration policies. The state inspections duplicate federal inspections, imposing severe delays on truckers, and having no apparent connection to immigration.
[Texas Tribune] “At times, DPS troopers appear to be checking every commercial vehicle that crosses select international bridges, with each inspection taking between 45 minutes and an hour.
“Mexican news outlets reported that about 500 truckers are blocking southbound traffic into Mexico to prevent the entrance of U.S. trucks. Truckers told El Mañanain Reynosa that they had waited three to four days at the international bridge and were running out of fuel while they waited.
“One trucker told the news outlet that prior to Abbott’s order, he made two crossings into the U.S. a day. Now, he’d be lucky to have one or two a week given the long delays at the bridges.”
Both Pharr and Laredo/Colombia-Solidarity have seen long lines for trucks because of checkpoints set up by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) right outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations.
[FreightWaves] “The long lines at the Texas DPS Inspection stations were not allowing for commercial cargo vehicles to exit the two [CBP] commercial cargo facilities,” Armando Taboada, assistant director of CBP field operations at the Laredo Field Office, said in an email to the trade community.
“CBP officers at the Port of Hidalgo/Pharr and Laredo-Colombia continue to process commercial shipments, but will be impacted by the Texas DPS inspections stations that are preventing commercial traffic to efficiently exit the commercial cargo facilities. …
“CBP already inspects commercial and passenger vehicles crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, including enforcing customs, immigration, and agricultural laws and regulations at commercial ports of entry.”
One of the first moves of the Biden administration was to suspend the draconian Trump “public charge” regulations, which had already been prevented from taking effect by various lawsuits. Predictably, Republican state officials sued to invalidate the Biden administration action. However, the Biden administration has issued its own “public charge” rule through administrative procedures that will replace the Trump-era rule, regardless of the outcome of those lawsuits.
[The Nation] “The wheels of federal bureaucracy move slowly, but last month the Department of Homeland Security released a “notice of proposed rulemaking” and call for comment by April 25 on a new policy regulating the adjudication of the public charge statute. If this is enacted, it will reshape the degree to which immigrants will be able—and, perhaps more importantly from a public health perspective, will feel able—to access public benefits. Some outside experts, however, remain concerned about the people who may continue to be excluded. …
“In 2019, according to the Urban Institute, one in five immigrant families reported avoiding seeking public benefits out of fear of being deemed public charges and denied visas and green cards. Among poorer families or families of people with disabilities, the rates were even higher. Town said, “It means kids are going without food.” And although the Trump administration touted saving money as its rationale behind the new public charge rule, immigrant families avoiding care ultimately cost the government millions, if not billions, in added expenses by, for example, shifting costs from cost-effective preventative care to emergency medicine.”
Increasing immigration would boost the U.S. economy and fill badly-needed jobs in health care.
[CBS] “The “financial health of Social Security and Medicare, as well as capacity for caregiving of the elderly, will be strained without continued positive growth in the U.S. population,” Watson, of Williams College, wrote recently.
“A dearth of immigrants could also mean a less dynamic job market overall. Not only do immigrants tend to be younger than the U.S. population overall, they are more likely to work and three times as likely to start businesses, by one estimate.”
Indeed, Mary. And speaking truth to power is like pulling teeth without anesthetic.