Since the Biden administration imposed new immigration policies in May, illegal border crossings have declined 42% to the lowest level since President Joe Biden’s first full month in office, Politico reports. The new policies were meant to prevent a surge anticipated after the lifting of Title 42, a pandemic-era order that allowed border agents to immediately expel millions of migrants on Covid prevention grounds. Border officials apprehended 99,545 individuals in between ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, the first time this figure has fallen below 100,000 since February 2021. Total border encounters in June, including individuals who presented at ports of entry with or without an appointment, through the government’s CBP One app, totaled just under 145,000, a 30% decrease from May and the second lowest figure in two years.
The Biden administration attributed the drop to its carrot-stick policy response, a combination of tough consequences for unlawful border crossers with an expansion of lawful pathways and processes for those coming to the country legally. A federal judge is set on Wednesday to hear a challenge to the Biden administration’s asylum ban that bars some migrants from applying for protection if they cross the border illegally or fail to first apply for safe harbor while crossing through another country on the way to the U.S. If the judge blocks Biden’s asylum ban, the administration would lose its strictest deterrence measure to date. Administration officials argue that it’s not a “categorical ban” on asylum-seekers and emphasized that asylum-seekers can apply for an appointment through the CBP smartphone app, noting the U.S. is accepting 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela through its humanitarian parole program.