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Daily Border Links are following a sporadic publication schedule between May 3 and July 19. Regular daily updates will return on July 22.

Developments

Reports that the White House may launch an executive order to limit asylum access at the border are converging on Tuesday (June 4) as a likely date for an announcement. The measure would enable U.S. border authorities to “shut down” access to asylum seekers, instead channeling them into rapid removal from the United States, at times when daily migrant arrivals exceed a certain threshold, probably 4,000 or 5,000 people per day.

At busy moments along the border, then, the executive order would institute a policy similar to the pandemic-era Title 42 expulsions regime.

The Biden administration appears to be relying on a provision in U.S. law (Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) that allows the president to ban arrivals of entire classes of migrants. Any order will face legal challenges, and courts may rule that Section 212(f) does not apply once a migrant has already arrived on U.S. soil and is requesting protection under U.S. asylum law.

“The talks were still fluid and the people stressed that no final decisions had been made” about the executive order, the Associated Press cautioned.

Texas security forces, principally National Guard soldiers, have begun firing non-lethal ammunition at migrants—mainly pepper irritant projectiles but perhaps also rubber bullets—on what seems to be a routine basis along the Rio Grande between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. The Texas personnel are discharging these weapons even though the migrants are usually on the other side of fencing and concertina wire, and thus pose no imminent threat. Those claiming to have been in the line of fire include families and journalists.

Migrants in Ciudad Juárez told EFE that the Texas personnel fire at them even “while they sleep.” They displayed bruises and un-ruptured projectiles. “In addition to aggressions with weapons, said migrants on the river, are constant verbal aggressions and the use of laser beams to damage the eyes,” the report added.

As May draws to a close, “the El Paso, Texas-Juarez, Mexico area recorded a maximum temperature of 96 degrees on Thursday,” Border Report reported. “Juarez city officials say several migrants in the past two weeks have come down with heat-related illnesses, including dehydration.” Most of the city’s migrant shelters, which are about 60 percent full right now, force single adults to spend daylight hours off their premises.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The University of Texas’s Strauss Center released the latest in a long series of reports about asylum processing at U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry. “In May 2024, the ports of entry in Tijuana and Matamoros each had nearly 400 daily CBP One appointments, constituting 52 percent of all available slots,” while all official border crossings border-wide allowed about 100 “walk-ups” per day.

The report discusses some of the difficulty that asylum seekers are experiencing in reaching the U.S.-Mexico border due to Mexico’s 2024 crackdown on migration. Mexico’s Migration Policy Unit released data this week showing that authorities had stopped or encountered 481,025 migrants between January and April, 231 percent more than during the same period in 2023.

The International Refugee Assistance Project published a second update with information about the State Department-coordinated “Safe Mobility Office” (SMO) program. As of mid-May 2024, about 190,000 people had registered for appointments to seek legal migration pathways at SMOs, managed with UNHCR and IOM, in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala. The majority of SMO registrants—at least 110,000—were Venezuelans in Colombia. Over 21,000 registrants at all offices have been approved for resettlement under the State Department-run Refugee Admissions Program.

The SMOs already refer a few registrants to legal migration pathways in Spain and soon Canada. CBS News reported that the offices may soon channel some Latin American migrants to Greece and Italy.

Telling the story of a Northeast Cartel hitman killing carried out in Zapata, Texas, a feature from USA Today’s Rick Jervis illustrated the difficulty of carrying out cross-border organized crime investigations. Political disagreements about “Operation Lone Star,” Jervis noted, has worsened law enforcement cooperation between Mexico and the state of Texas.

Between January 1 and April 16, Guatemala has expelled over 7,500 migrants into Honduras, UNHCR reported. “77% were Venezuelans, 9% Colombians and 6% Ecuadorians.” Meanwhile, funding cutbacks have drastically reduced, “from over eight to three,” the number of humanitarian organizations offering assistance in Agua Caliente, the Honduran border town where most Guatemalan expulsions take place.

At Public Books, S. Deborah Kang examined the historical and current challenges that asylum seekers face in Border Patrol custody, from many agents’ predisposition against asylum to the expansion of Expedited Removal.