The Biden administration is touting a sharp drop in migrant numbers at the southern border in the wake of the Title 42 public health order’s expiration — with an almost 70% drop in numbers bucking predictions that the floodgates would open when the order ended.
The Department of Homeland Security released statistics showing that numbers encountered by Border Patrol had dropped from historic highs of 10,000 a day last week in the days preceding the end of Title 42 on May 11, to an average of 4,000 a day since the order expired.
On Thursday and Friday, those numbers were down to a relatively low 3,000 a day — a roughly 70% drop since the sky-high numbers seen a week earlier, the agency said.
Statistics show that the top three nationalities of migrants coming into the U.S. are Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. There’s an abrupt turnaround for migrants from Venezuela, who were the top nationality before the order ended.
The order’s implementation began in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border for public health purposes. Over 2 million migrants were removed from the U.S. quickly due to the order.
The order saw a ding-dong legal battle as Republican states sought to keep it in place as the Biden administration tried to end it — while also in a legal battle with activists who wanted it ended immediately.
There were widespread concerns from Democrats, Republicans and the administration itself that there would be a massive border surge as the order ended and migrants believed they had a greater chance of being admitted to the U.S. to claim asylum. President Biden told reporters he expected the situation to be chaotic.
Despite the gloomy outlook, the administration pushed forward with its plan, which included greater cooperation with Mexico, an asylum rule that in theory makes migrants who entered U.S. illegally without claiming asylum in a prior country ineligible, and stiffer punishments under the traditional Title 8 border authority.
Additionally, the administration expanded lawful migration pathways, including setting up migrant processing centers in Latin America and establishing a massive humanitarian parole program to allow 30,000 migrants from four nationalities in legally a month.
The pessimistic predictions appeared to be on track when numbers spiked to historic levels in the days leading up to the order’s ending, but now the numbers have dropped the administration has linked the lower numbers to its border measures — but is not yet declaring victory.
“We are encouraged by this progress, but it is too soon to draw any definitive conclusions about or predict trends,” DHS said in a statement. “The underlying conditions prompting historic migration in the Western Hemisphere remain, and smugglers will continue to spread disinformation to entice migrants to make the dangerous journey.”
“We remain vigilant and will continue to deliver the strengthened consequences that we have put in place at our border for migrants who fail to take advantage of the historic increase in lawful pathways to come to the United States,” the statement said.
DHS said it has removed over 11,000 illegal immigrants to over 30 countries since May 12, and has been making a number of PSAs to highlight its deportation flights to migrants. For those it allowed in, an average of 1,070 were allowed in each day via the CBP One app to be processed, and an additional 7,000 from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela have entered through the parole process — which is currently facing a legal challenge.
It is also possible that other factors are in play, as well.
Hours before the order ended, Florida sued and eventually secured a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s “parole with conditions” program — of which 6,000 migrants were released in a single day into the U.S. due to overcrowding.
Additionally, both Texas and Florida have deployed resources and law enforcement, with Texas officers blocking migrants coming in and setting up barbed wire fences.