Officials said Wednesday that the Biden administration has begun expelling Cuba and Nicaragua from Mexico under pandemic-related powers for denying migrants a chance to seek asylum, even as the rule’s use Detailing that it is trying to open it, officials said on Wednesday.
The US signed an agreement with Mexico to evacuate 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguas in one day from three locations: San Diego; El Paso, Texas; and Rio Grande Valley, Texas, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the attempt.
The evictions began on April 27 and will end on May 22, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been made public. They are carried out under Title 42 Authorization, a public health law used to expel migrants on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Title 42 is due to expire on May 23, unless a judge intervenes.
According to a high-level Mexican official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the US and Mexico agreed on a very limited number of removals to Cuba and Nicaragua on April 26, as they were not authorized to comment publicly. were. This was driven by the high number of migrants from those two countries arriving at the US border.
The official said Mexico also took into account that the US government has resumed visa processing in Cuba. Mexico also started the process of visas for Cubans.
Another Mexican official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, confirmed that 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans were being expelled from San Diego under Title 42.
The US Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As of last week, Mexico had agreed to take only Guatemalans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans – apart from Mexicans – under Title 42 authority. Other nationalities are subject to Title 42, but cost, strained diplomatic relations, and other considerations often make it difficult to deport them back to their home countries.
It is nearly impossible for the US to evacuate migrants to Cuba or Nicaragua because of poor relations with those governments. This has posed a challenge to the Biden administration as more people from those countries seek asylum in the United States.
Cuba was intercepted more than 32,000 times by US officials at the Mexican border in March, according to US Customs and Border Protection, double the number in February and more than five times the October count. Nicaragua eased travel restrictions from Cuba in November, making it easier for Cubans to stay on land until the US border. Most enter the US in or near Yuma, Arizona and Del Rio, Texas.
Nicaraguans were stopped more than 16,000 times in March, more than double the September level. The vast majority enters South Texas.
Lifting Title 42 has proved controversial as the midterm election, even for Biden’s Democratic Party, amid concerns that the US is not prepared for the anticipated increase in migrants seeking asylum. Authorities stopped migrants more than 221,000 times in March, the most in 22 years.
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security publicly stand behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end the measure because it can no longer be justified on grounds of protecting public health.
But the practice of expelling Cubans and Nicaraguas contrasts with the administration’s public statements that it was phasing out the use of pandemic powers to prepare for May 23.
The US has expelled migrants more than 1.8 million times under Title 42 authorization since March 2020, effectively overriding asylum rights under US law and international treaty. In doing so, migrants are not subject to immigration law, which includes the right to receive protection from harassment at home.
The administration said in a court filing that it began processing more Central American adults under immigration laws following the CDC’s announcement on April 1. But a federal judge in Louisiana ruled last week that it could not begin opening Title 42 while it was still in effect.
US District Judge Robert Summerhage strongly criticized the CDC’s decision, suggesting it seeks to keep Title 42 in effect after May 23. The hearing is scheduled for May 13 for oral arguments.
Marissa Limon, senior director of advocacy and planning at the Hope Border Institute, said advocates began learning about Cuba and Nicaraguan expulsions from El Paso on Monday and later confirmed the new practice with US officials.
Limon said the administration is “trying to get every last bit out of Title 42” before it ends. She called it “worrisome” but in line with the administration’s efforts other countries in the Western Hemisphere should take more responsibility for hosting people fleeing their homes.