Illegal border crossings plunge among Cubans, Nicaraguans

SAN DIEGO (AP) – U.S. authorities have seen a 97% drop in illegal border crossings by migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela since Mexico began accepting those deported under a pandemic order, the Biden administration said Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after Texas and 19 other Republican-led states sued to stop it comprehensive humanitarian parole for citizens of the four countries who apply online, fly to the United States and find a financial sponsor.

The administration said on January 5 that it would take in up to 30,000 people a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela for two years with work permits. At the same time, Mexico agreed to claw back the same amount from those countries who enter the United States illegally and are deported under Title 42, which denies them the right to seek asylum, with the stated goal of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“These expanded border enforcement measures are working,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “It is incomprehensible that some states that could benefit from these highly effective enforcement measures are trying to block them and cause more irregular migration at our southern border.”

U.S. authorities stopped migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela an average of 115 times a day along the Mexican border during a seven-day period that ended Tuesday, down from a daily average of 3,367 during the week ending May 11. December.

The Texas-led lawsuit seeks to stop large-scale humanitarian parole for the four countries, which could amount to 360,000 people a year. It has been awarded to U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Corpus Christi, an appointee of Donald Trump who has ruled against President Joe Biden on who should be given priority in deportation.

“This illegal amnesty program, which will invite hundreds of thousands of aliens to the United States each year, will only make this immigration crisis drastically worse,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a press release.

By law, Homeland Security can parole migrants to the United States “only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

So far, 1,700 Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians have reached the United States on humanitarian parole under the policy changes announced this month, and thousands from those three countries have been approved, administration officials told reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity. The number of Venezuelans was not immediately available.

Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s State Department director of North American affairs, echoed Mayorkas’ comments that the latest changes are a success.

“The measures announced by the United States have begun to deliver important results with the twin goals of opening avenues for regular migration and also significantly reducing the risks associated with irregular migration flows,” he wrote. Tuesday in Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper.

A surge in Cuban and Nicaraguan arrivals in December led to the highest number of illegal crossings recorded in any month of Biden’s presidency, the administration reported last week. Authorities stopped migrants 251,487 times along the Mexican border in December, up 7% from November and up 40% from the same period a year earlier.

Homeland Security said Wednesday that the numbers in January were “on track” to be the lowest since February 2021, Biden’s first full month in office.

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