U.S. Customs and Border Protection has released more than 2.3 million migrants into the U.S. at the southern border during the Biden administration, allowing in the vast majority of migrant families and some adult groups. The figures published by the Department of Homeland Security show the extent to which CBP officials have been overwhelmed by the volume of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The mass releases have been a measure of last resort when agents don’t have the holding capacity or personnel to process migrants using standard procedures, says the Washington Post. The 2.3 million figure is significantly lower than the more than 6 million migrants taken into CBP custody during the same period, a number many of President Biden’s critics have used as a proxy for overall migration.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said released migrants are put into deportation proceedings. He said it takes too long to deport people who are ineligible to stay, and urged Congress to boost the agency’s funding. “It i s precisely why we have said since day one of this administration that the immigration system that is so fundamentally broken needs to be fixed,” Mayorkas told Fox News. The DHS data show more than 4 million border-crossers have been expelled to Mexico, returned to home countries or otherwise removed from the U.S. over the past three years. The 4 million figure includes more than 2.5 million migrants who were expelled by CBP using the pandemic Title 42 policy that allowed border agents to rapidly return migrants to Mexico or their home countries without giving them a chance to seek U.S. protection. The policy, which the Biden administration ended in May, partly inflated CBP numbers because it allowed border-crossers to make repeat attempts without fear of legal consequences such as jail time.