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US Tries to Send More Seeking Asylum Back Across the Border

Border officials aim to quadruple the number of Central Americans returned
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2019 8:31 AM CDT
A border patrol checkpoint north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was closed by US immigration authorities.   (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
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(Newser) – Border officials are aiming to more than quadruple the number of asylum seekers sent back over the southern border each day, a major expansion of a government effort to address the swelling number of Central Americans arriving in the country, a Trump administration official said Saturday. It was the latest attempt to ease a straining immigration system that Trump administration officials say is at the breaking point. Hundreds of officers who usually screen cargo and vehicles at ports of entry were reassigned to help manage migrants, the AP reports. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asked for volunteers from non-immigration agencies in her department, sent a letter to Congress late this past week requesting resources and broader authority to deport families faster, and met with Central American and Mexican officials.

About 60 asylum seekers a day are returned to Mexico now at the San Ysidro, Calexico, and El Paso ports to wait out their cases, the official said. They are allowed to return to the US for court dates. With a backlog of more than 700,000 immigration cases, asylum seekers can wait years for their cases to progress, and officials say some people game the system in order to live in the US. Officials hope to have as many as 300 people returned per day by the end of the week. But the plan has already been marred by confusion, scheduling glitches and an inability by some attorneys to reach their clients. In San Ysidro alone, Mexico had been prepared to accept up to 120 asylum seekers per week, but for the first six weeks only 40 people per week were returned. Democratic congressional leaders denounce President Trump's border policies as having created "senseless heartbreak and horror."

(Read more asylum seeker stories.)

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