Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday that the Border Patrol has seen a 50 percent drop in encounters at the southern border in the days following the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed the rapid expulsions of asylum-seekers.
“In fact, over the past two days, the United States Border Patrol has seen an approximately 50 percent drop in the number of people encountered at our southern border as compared to the numbers earlier this week before Title 42 came to an end midnight on Thursday,” Mayorkas told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week.”
Title 42 ended last week, sparking concerns among lawmakers and officials that a surge of migrants would try to cross the U.S. border. Officials were expecting a heavy influx of migrants, but officials said they had yet to see a change in migrant levels in the immediate hours after the rule expired.
Before Title 42 expired officials reported about 11,000 encounters on Tuesday, and 10,000 on Wednesday. By Friday the number had dropped to 6,300, and it was down to 4,200 by Saturday.
In preparation for the surge, the Biden administration allocated more resources to the border, including sending 24,000 border agents, along with military troops and asylum officers.
Mayorkas also denied on Sunday that the Biden administration’s immigration policy is equivalent to former President Trump’s. He said those immigrants who have not tried to seek relief in other countries would need a “higher threshold of proof” to qualify for asylum in the U.S., and reiterated that the Biden administration’s policy is “not an asylum ban.”
Texas Politics Project Director Jim Henson said he doesn’t see the unexpectedly low numbers changing the politics of the border and immigration much.
“Expectations were so high for such an immediate surge and to see a crisis brew on something of a timetable, that it probably in the short run breaks reasonably well, in political terms, for the Biden administration,” Henson said. “A little less well for Governor Abbott, I suppose. But I think these are all very minute kind of short-term considerations, given what we know about the unpredictability of flows in the border and even seasonality.”