There are indicators that migration will swell at the southwestern border, presenting the Biden administration with an early test. In November, officials apprehended a child crossing the border alone 4,467 times. That is a stark increase from the 712 in April, when many nations imposed national lockdowns and the Trump administration invoked a public health emergency rule to put new border restrictions in place. Nearly all of the 70,052 arrests at the border in November involved a lone migrant adult, whom border officials can still rapidly return to Mexico under the public health rule. Immigration experts have pointed to two recent hurricanes that devastated Central America as well as the pandemic’s damage to the economy in warning that the U.S. in the coming months will most likely face the question of what to do with parents and children crossing the southwestern border in search of protection, reports the New York Times.
The new administration is expected to balance the demands of the left for more lenient immigration policies with the concerns of moderates and law enforcement officials who believe a show of tolerance could lead to an uptick in illegal migration. The Trump administration has sought to restrict the ability to obtain asylum through myriad regulations and policies, including one that forces migrants to wait in Mexico for decisions in their cases. The U.S. has cited public health authority in empowering border officials to “expel” migrants at the border back to Mexico or their home countries without hearing their asylum claims. That policy had the unintended consequence of encouraging migrants to cross the border illegally, repeatedly. While President-elect Joe Biden has not said whether he will lift the public health restrictions, he plans to end the “remain in Mexico” policy that has forced tens of thousands of migrants back across the border.