This week, we read about more Ukrainian refugees coming to the U.S.-Mexico border, ICE scaling back on some immigrant detention centers, and the Biden administration finally lifting Title 42.
There has been a spike in the number of Ukrainian refugees arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in the last month. In February, there were 272 encounters, compared to nearly 1,000 as of March 25th.
Compared to migrants coming from other countries, these numbers are much lower. However, the influx of Ukrainian migrants shows just how extreme the crisis has become.
According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, border officials are considering exempting Ukrainian migrants from Title 42. The policy has been used to remove over 1 million migrants seeking asylum back to their home countries. The administration has also paused deportations to Ukraine and is welcoming up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the U.S.
Border officials continue to be overwhelmed by the number of migrants arriving at the border. They are preparing for a ‘mass migration event’ anticipated this spring.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is closing one detention center and scaling back the use of several other problematic immigrant detention centers.
The Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama is being discontinued due to a ‘persistence of deficiencies.’ The center had a high average for length of stay and little outdoor space.
ICE is also pausing the use of Glades County Detention Center in Florida. At Glades, there have been ongoing concerns over proper medical care. There have also been complaints of racist treatment towards Black detainees, and dangerous uses of toxic chemicals.
Immigration advocates and organizations have long spoken out against immigration detention centers. These concerns have only increased during the pandemic.
Under the Biden administration, ICE arrests and deportations have heavily decreased. These numbers may garner criticism from Republicans. However, most migrants at the border have been expelled due to the Title 42 policy at the border.
Though this is a step in the right direction, many say the Biden administration should do more to end problematic detention centers.
After two years, the Biden Administration plans to lift the controversial public health authority known as Title 42. The policy was introduced during the Trump administration at the beginning of the pandemic. While the policy was intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but has prevented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from seeking asylum.
The policy will be lifted by May 23rd. Since March 2020, the Biden administration has expelled over 1.7 million immigrants, often forcing them to return to unsafe conditions in their home country.
U.S. officials have been warned of a surge in migrants when the policy is lifted. DHS plans to do a phased approach for migrants wanting to seek asylum once the policy lifts.
The administration also plans to let asylum officers adjudicate asylum claims, not only immigration judges. This is intended to help speed up the process at the border.
Many say lifting the policy is long overdue.
“This approach continues to show that Title 42 has nothing to do with public health and everything to do with the xenophobia and racism embedded in our immigration system,” said Noah Gottschalk, global policy lead at Oxfam America.