With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.
Border Updates will pause for the next two weeks as staff take vacation time. We will resume publication on June 23.
THIS WEEK IN BRIEF:
Very preliminary data indicate that, following a sharp fall in the days after the Title 42 policy’s end, numbers of U.S.-bound migrants have either flattened out or begun to increase again. Shelters are full in much of Mexico, meanwhile, where authorities continue to move large numbers of migrants toward the country’s southern border.
Asylum seekers who have been unable to secure “CBP One” appointments have begun lining up, for days at a time, at ports of entry in Nogales and Tijuana. The situation resembles CBP’s practice of “metering”—limiting asylum seekers’ access to ports of entry, and only allowing a small number per day to be processed—which a federal court declared to be illegal in 2020.
A few more details have emerged about the May 18 death of Raymond Mattia, a 58-year-old man shot multiple times by Border Patrol, while apparently unarmed, in the front yard of his house in the Tohono O’Odham Nation Reservation in Arizona. Family and friends have held protests and are pushing for accountability.
The Full Update
What we know about post-Title 42 migration
Three weeks have passed since the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 policy, which expelled migrants 2.8 million times from the U.S.-Mexico border over 38 months, regardless of asylum needs. Contrary to many predictions, the period following Title 42’s end saw a sharp drop in the number of migrants encountered at the border, from an early May high of over 10,000 per day to a mid-May low of less than 3,000 per day. (See WOLA’s May 19 Border Update.)
This drop is unlikely to persist for long, and early indications point to the number of migrant encounters already beginning to recover after touching their lowest level.
The quick drop after May 11, the last day of Title 42, likely owed to migrants adopting a “wait and see” stance amid uncertainty about the Biden administration’s new policies. On May 10, the departments of Homeland Security and Justice put in place a new administrative rule curtailing access to asylum, with a few exceptions, for all non-Mexican migrants (1) who were not first rejected for asylum in another country through which they passed, and (2) who did not make an appointment at a land port of entry (official border crossing) using CBP’s smartphone app, CBP One. Citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who meet both of those conditions may be deported into Mexico.
Lacking clarity about how this rule will play out, migrants who intend to seek asylum are crossing in much smaller numbers, at least for now. But very partial data seem to point to overall migration numbers ticking up slightly during the final days of May.
Along the route that U.S.-bound migrants take, most countries’ migration authorities share monthly data within two or three weeks after a month ends. As we await this data, we have partial clues about what post-May 11 migratory flows have looked like. The few available indicators, though, mostly uphold the idea of a reduction in migration followed by a gradual increase.
In the United States, Border Patrol Chief Raúl Ortiz’s Twitter account shares periodic updates with some of the agency’s enforcement statistics from previous days. During May, these show Border Patrol’s migrant apprehensions rising during the first third of the month, falling during the second third, and leveling off or even recovering a bit during the final third.
Ortiz’s “past week” tweets show a continuous decline since May 11: a per-day average of 7,850 apprehensions on May 6, 9,680 on May 12, 4,068 on May 19, and 3,149 on May 26. However, a “past 96 hours” tweet posted May 30 showed a daily average higher than what it was in Ortiz’s two previous updates: 3,396 apprehensions per day. That is 16 percent more than what the Chief had reported in a “past 72 hours” tweet 8 days earlier, on May 22 (2,917).
We have close to real-time data from Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector, thanks to a “dashboard” that El Paso, Texas’s municipal government posts to its website. That resource does not show any increase in migration during the latter days of May. It shows 7-day averages of 1,522 Border Patrol migrant apprehensions per day during the week ending May 14, 734 per day the week ending May 21, and 672 per day the week ending May 28. As of May 31, the 7-day average in El Paso had dropped to 543.
The leveling-off, or slight increase, indicated by Chief Ortiz’s tweets does not appear to be happening in El Paso.
Honduras is the only country along the migration route that publicly shares data in something close to real time. Its early data do appear to point to some recent increase in migration transiting Honduras, after only a modest decline.
The number of migrants registering with Honduran authorities reached an average of 918 per day on May 1-10, the end of the Title 42 period. That fell to 805 per day the following week, and 690 the week after that. Interestingly, the drop from post-Title 42 week 1 to week 2 was entirely Venezuelan: the population of non-Venezuelan migrants actually increased.
Then, during the final four days that Honduras reports—May 25-28—the daily average increases once again, to 737 per day. Much of the increase is Venezuelan migration.Read More