The Biden administration has begun expelling Cubans and Nicaraguans to Mexico under pandemic-related powers to deny migrants a chance to seek asylum, expanding use of the rule it says it is trying to unwind, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. struck an agreement with Mexico to expel up to 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans a day from three locations: San Diego; El Paso, and Texas Rio Grande Valley. The expulsions began April 27 and will end May 22. They are carried out under Title 42 authority, named for a public health law and used to expel migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Title 42 is due to expire May 23.
The U.S. and Mexico agreed April 26 to limited expulsions of Cubans and Nicaraguans, prompted by higher numbers of migrants from those two countries coming to the U.S. border. Until last week, Mexico agreed to take only Guatemalans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans — in addition to Mexicans — under Title 42 authority. Other nationalities are subject to Title 42 but costs, strained diplomatic ties and other issues make it difficult to send them back to their home countries. It’s next to impossible for the U.S. to expel migrants to Cuba or Nicaragua because of poor relations with those governments. That has posed a challenge for the Biden administration as more people from those countries seek haven in the U.S. Cubans were stopped by U.S. authorities more than 32,000 times on the Mexican border in March, double the number in February and more than five times October’s count.