Over the last few weeks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection are reporting an increase in encounters with migrants, experts believe Title 42 is to blame.
Title 42 is a Trump-era public health order looking to expel most of those seeking to enter the United States. Under the rule, migrants are denied the opportunity to plead their asylum case.
The administration has used Title 42 to expel migrants 426,819 times so far in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, according to CBP data.
Experts argue that Title 42, is actually leading to more border encounters, not less, since single adults who are expelled are simply returning to try and cross again.
According to The Houston Chronicle, the administration reported slightly fewer than 165,000 encounters with migrants in February, about 10,000 more than it reported in January. The increase was driven by more than 126,000 encounters with single adults, the most in a single month since 2006.
A third of the single adults tried to cross at least once in the 12 months prior, CBP reported. That is more than double the average rate of repeated crossers from fiscal years 2014 to 2019.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, has seen the recent influx as an opportunity to extend the Trump-era order in fear that ending the policy might sparke another wave.
“It’s going to be almost a green light for people to say, now’s the time to come in, because they’re not using Title 42,” Cuellar said. The 17-year incumbent is in a Democratic primary runoff with progressive immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, who has called for an end to Title 42.
Like Cisneros, other members of Biden’s own party have called for Title 42 to be revoked, pointing to a significant decline in coronavirus cases that were the basis for the order, as well as Biden’s campaign promises to restore the asylum system they say it undermines, as reported by The Houston Chronicle.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier this month renewed calls for Biden to end the order, saying “now’s the time to stop the madness.”
“The continued use of Title 42 has created life-threatening conditions for vulnerable migrants, enriched human smugglers, and significantly increased the number of dangerous border crossings,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senators from his party said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control says it is reviewing the policy and will decide by the end of March whether to keep using it to expel single adults and families.