Two US Department of Homeland Security officials told NBC News that immigrants crossing the border without documents were turned away on Friday, the first day after Title 42 was lifted.
Officials said U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped between 7,500 and 8,000 illegal immigrants on Friday, compared to about 11,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday and 10,000 on Thursday.
These figures include migrants crossing illegally between ports of entry – more than 7,000 of them on Friday – and those who presented themselves legally at ports of entry without proper entry documents.
Covid-era restrictions that allowed immigration officials to quickly turn away migrants at the US-Mexico border expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday, prompting tougher policies for asylum seekers. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that people who had already used a legal route to cross the border were “presumed ineligible for asylum.”
He said agents were prepared to humanely treat and remove people who are not legally allowed to be in the United States. “The borders are not open,” he said earlier this week. “People who do not use the available legal pathways to enter the United States now face much stricter consequences.”
Former President Donald Trump invoked Title 42 when the coronavirus pandemic struck, apparently as a way to slow the spread of Covid, but implementing it has allowed the Trump administration to expel immigrants more quickly without having to. Consider them for refuge. And it has continued under the Biden administration, which has repeatedly sought to end it, but whose plans have been delayed by legal challenges from Republican state attorneys general.
The pandemic waned, making the public health order that led to the use of Title 42 moot, and the US Supreme Court overturned the arguments in the case. A federal judge in Louisiana blocked the administration’s other attempt to get rid of the policy.
Since it was filed, the government has reverted to earlier immigration law, which is subtitled 8 of the United States Code of Federal Laws.
While border officers can expel people from the country more quickly under Title 42 because they can do without the asylum process, the penalties immigrants may face now are not assessed under Title 8: among them is up to two years in prison if a person re-enters the country illegally legal after his banishment or banishment. Also, people who have been removed from the country will be banned from returning to the country, even legally, for five years. If caught again, they could face criminal charges, imprisonment and a longer ban from entering the country again.
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