October 2022, Volume 28, Number 4
CBP, ICE, USCIS
CBP. Over 2.1 million migrants were encountered just inside US borders in the first 11 months of FY22, putting CBP on track to encounter 2.3 million migrants in FY22, up 600,000 from the record 1.7 million foreigners in FY21.
Over 60 percent of those encountered in FY22 were Mexicans and Central Americans. The 40 percent from other countries included over 175,000 Cubans, more than the 125,000 who arrived during the Mariel boatlift of 1980.
CBP estimated that a quarter of those encountered were apprehended at least once previously, 70 percent were solo adults, and 1.3 million were removed under Title 42. About a million migrants were admitted under Title 8, which allows unauthorized foreigners to apply for asylum in the US.
About 80 percent of Title 8 asylum applicants are released into the US, but the US government sometimes failed to give the migrants who were released into the US the Notice to Appear documents needed to begin an asylum case. There is a backlog of two million cases in immigration courts, and the lack of NTAs adds to the backlog.
The USSC in June 2022 allowed the Biden administration to end the Remain in Mexico program that began in 2019, prompting a debate over how quickly to end a program that has allowed the US to send foreigners who enter illegally and seek asylum back to Mexico until their cases are heard.
Over 5,000 people were charged with human smuggling in 2021, almost double the 2,800 charged with human smuggling in 2014. Mexican cartels are smuggling both drugs and people into the US, generating revenues of $13 billion in 2022 from migrants paying $5,000 to $20,000 each; 1.3 million immigrants each paying $10,000 would generate $13 billion.
Some 20,000 trucks a day travel on I-35 to and from Laredo, Texas. Smugglers often try to conceal migrants in trucks, often painting them with the colors and logos of well-known firms such as Fed Ex.
ICE. The USSC in July 2022 refused to allow the Biden administration to prioritize for deportation foreigners who pose national security, public safety and border security risks. Under Trump, ICE agents focused on criminal aliens and security threats, but also arrested other unauthorized foreigners they encountered.
Under Biden’s priorities, ICE agents would have to justify arresting non-priority unauthorized foreigners. Several states sued, alleging that the new guidelines burdened the states with unauthorized foreigners who should be removed. A federal judge agreed with the states, and a federal appeals court and the USSC agreed that ICE agents can arrest all unauthorized foreigners.
The ICE case is an example of states suing to block federal policies. California sued the Trump administration 122 times, while Texas sued the Biden Administration 27 times in its first 1.5 years in office.
USCIS. There are 140,000 employment-based immigrant visa available each year, with most going to foreigners and their families who are sponsored by US employers who cannot find US workers to fill jobs. Immigrant visas that are not used for family-based visas in one year can be used for employment-based immigrant visas the next year. The covid slowdown in processing immigrant visas made extra visas available for employment applicants, and USCIS pledged to ensure that they would all be used in FY22.
USCIS asylum officers rather than DOJ immigration judges are making decisions on applications for asylum. Under the new system, migrants are to be interviewed within 45 days of their applications, and decisions made within five weeks of these interviews. The backlog in immigration courts is 1.9 million, including 750,000 asylum applications, including many that have been pending more than five years. Asylum applicants can work legally while their applications are pending, and their children can attend K-12 schools.
There are 650 USCIS asylum officers and 600 immigration judges. A quarter of the asylum officers have been assigned to decide asylum cases, where they granted asylum in about 25 percent of cases. Applicants denied are returned to immigration court for expedited removal proceedings.
President Biden promised to admit 125,000 refugees in FY23, the same as in FY22. Advocates noted that slow processing means that fewer than 125,000 migrants arrived in FY21. People from Afghanistan and Ukraine were paroled into the US and did not count against the 125,000 refugee goal.