(AP) — As part of negotiations to settle a lawsuit
over pandemic-related powers that deny migrants
the right to apply for asylum, the Biden administration
has agreed to allow about 250 people
per day through border
crossings with Mexico
to seek refuge in the United States, an attorney said Monday.
According to Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued in federal court in Washington, D.C., the government also said it would stop flying
migrant families from Texas
' Rio Grande Valley to El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, where they would be expelled to Mexico under pandemic powers.
The concessions by the government would dramatically alter the exercise of powers known as Title 42, named after a section of an obscure 1944 law that former President Donald Trump
used to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
to effectively end asylum at the border while it sought to prevent the coronavirus
Biden exempted unaccompanied children
from Title 42 but kept it for single adults and many families, drawing criticism from progressives
for keeping asylum out of reach for many and encouraging some parents to send their children across the border alone. Enforcement-minded critics argue that exempting children traveling alone resulted in record numbers crossing and that lifting restrictions more will result in more crossings.
According to Gelernt, the government and the ACLU
agreed on a “streamlined process for assessing and addressing exemption requests brought by particular vulnerable families and other individuals.” Once fully operational, an estimated 250 particularly vulnerable individuals will be allowed in daily to seek humanitarian protection through a consortium of nongovernmental organizations.
According to Gelernt, approximately 2,000 people have already been allowed to enter the country, exempted from pandemic-related powers to seek asylum or other forms of protection while in the United States.
“While these concessions may save lives, they are not a replacement for repealing Title 42 and fully restoring asylum processing,” Gelernt stated.
A request for comment from the Department of Homeland Security was not immediately responded to Monday night.
advocates have increased pressure on the government to repeal pandemic-related powers, arguing that they cannot be justified solely on the basis of protecting public health
. Migrants are typically deported to Mexico within two hours of being picked up by Border Patrol agents.
While insisting that the powers are in place for public health reasons, administration officials have repeatedly stated that more time is needed to develop the “humane” asylum system that Biden promised during his campaign.
Since Mexican authorities in Tamaulipas state sharply limited the number of Central American families it would accept back, citing a law in Mexico that went into effect in January against detaining migrant children, the Biden administration has been running daily flights for up to 135 people from Brownsville, Texas, to El Paso and San Diego.
The Border Patrol had more than 173,000 encounters with migrants on the Mexican border in April
, the most since April 2000, though the figures aren't directly comparable because more than six out of ten were expelled under pandemic-related powers, which carry no legal consequences, so many people try to cross multiple times.
In April, authorities encountered 17,171 children traveling alone, a decrease from the previous month's high of 18,960.
In April, approximately 50,000 people were encountered in families; approximately one out of every three families was deported to Mexico, while the remainder were permitted to remain in the United States to seek asylum.