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U.S. immigration authorities say they are beginning to see an uptick in illegal border crossings from Mexico, as it appears as though migrants are anticipating major changes in policy under a potential Joe Biden administration.
“Border Patrol agents are already seeing a Biden surge in illegal immigration at the southwest border, officials said Thursday, with the numbers surging 21% over the last month alone,” the Washington Times reported.
Mark Morgan, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner, noted that worsening economic conditions in Mexico and other countries further south are mostly blamed for the increase in illegal crossings into the U.S.
However, he also said that “perceived or anticipated shifts in policies” under a Biden White House are also at play.
Morgan said the increase in illegal traffic along the U.S. southwest border was increasingly dangerous as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on border personnel.
He said at least 1,300 CBP staffers are presently under quarantine; of those, 700 have been diagnosed as being positive for the virus, while 15 have died from it.
“I’ve attended way too many funerals,” Morgan said.
CBP officers and Border Patrol agents interdicted about 69,000 people for allegedly crossing the border illegally last month, which was up from 58,000 in September. Most of those were immediately sent back across the border into Mexico under an emergency COVID-19 order issued earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That has allowed CBP to push roughly 300,000 migrants back across the border over the past eight months, which Morgan said very likely has saved lives in the U.S. by reducing coronavirus infection deaths.
Homeland Security officials have warned for months that a presumptive Biden administration would reverse many of President Donald Trump’s stringent border enforcement policies, resulting in new increases in illegal immigrant traffic at the border.
Biden has said he will be reversing Trump border and immigration policies.
In October, he said during a debate with the president would act within the first 100 days of his administration to begin the process of granting U.S. citizenship to millions of people currently living in the country illegally.
“Within 100 days, I’m going to send the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people,” he said.
“All of those so-called dreamers, those DACA kids,” a reference to the Obama-imposed Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals policy — “they’re going to be immediately certified again to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship,” Biden added.
“The idea that they are being sent home by [Trump means] that they’re being sent to a country they’ve never seen before,” Biden continued.
Morgan suggested those kinds of policy change pledges are resonating south of the border.
“Make no mistake, that is going to sound the alarm that our borders are open,” he said, according to the Times. “You will see a crisis that makes last year’s crisis look like child’s play. And you can take that to the bank.”
Biden is also planning to target the Migrant Protection Protocols, which are known as the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy. Under its provisions, CBP officers were allowed to send tens of thousands of migrants to Mexico where they waited for their U.S. immigration hearing.
Morgan said that policy alone was responsible for dramatically curbing migrant caravans because it took away a key incentive — gaining a foothold in the U.S.
Before the policy in 2019, Morgan said CBP released about a half-million migrants into U.S. communities; the number fell to around 15,000 this year after the MPP was implemented.
Biden has also said he will halt Trump’s border wall construction, which Morgan said would also invite more people to cross illegally into the U.S.
“The very people now that are against building a wall voted for the wall back then. It’s beyond frustrating,” Morgan said. “I can draw no other conclusion than this is politics.”
In 2006, Biden voted for legislation — the Secure Fence Act — that authorized about 700 miles of new border barriers. But the fencing was never built; Democrats refused to fund the legislation the following year when they took control of the House.
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