Biden promised humane immigration at the southern border. Did he deliver?

On the heels of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy, Amna Nawaz takes this moment to do a check-in on the U.S.-Mexico border with journalist Robert Moore, founder of the nonprofit news organization El Paso Matters.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Now to the U.S. Southern border.

    The Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration in its attempt to end the Trump era remain-in-Mexico policy that forced migrants to stay in Mexico while seeking asylum. While its future is unknown, another policy to rapidly expel migrants during the pandemic remains in place.

    We check in now with Bob Moore. He's the founder of the nonprofit news organization El Paso Matters.

    Bob Moore, welcome back to the "NewsHour." Thanks for making the time.

    Just explain to us the Supreme Court move now. What does this operationally change at the border? How does this change how things are being processed right now?

  • Bob Moore:

    In the short term, it doesn't change anything really.

    As you noted, Title 42 is the main method both the Trump and Biden administrations have used for the last year-and-a-half to try to keep people from crossing the border.

    Longer term, it could have some implications if Mexico agrees to receive more MPP recipients and if the Biden administration does put the court's ruling into effect. But that is a little further down the road.

    But, realistically, even if MPP does go back into effect, it won't have a noticeable difference over what we're seeing now. The truth is most of the migrants coming to the border are not being allowed to cross.

    Last year and the year before, it was for MPP, but, since March of 2020, it has really been Title 42 that has stopped that flow, with some exceptions for families and unaccompanied children.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And that pandemic era rule is Title 42, we should clarify for people. That's what it's called.

    But when you talk about what's happening now at the border, as you say, most people are not being allowed in. That's most single adults. And single adults constitute the majority of people crossing the Southern border. But many families are and all unaccompanied children are.

    So, just walk me through, sort of in context, what are we seeing right now at the U.S. Southern border?

  • Bob Moore:

    We're seeing a continuation of developments that have been going on for close to a decade now, where you have families primarily from Central America that are facing desperate challenges, poverty, violence, and trying to make their way northward to escape from that.

    And, increasingly, we're seeing people come from other parts of Latin America as well. Because of the Title 42 expulsions we have been talking about, you have something of a revolving door that's been going on for the last year or so at the border, where the U.S. government kicks people out, they go back to Mexico, and they immediately try to recross in other areas.

    That, in part, is driving up some of the numbers we're seeing. But the main challenge remains the economic and instability issues that people are facing in Central America.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And what about specifically in Texas?

    I mean, I know Governor Greg Abbott has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration's immigration policies. He's taken unilateral actions of his own, including moving National Guard troops to the border region.

    What is going on there? And what's the impact? What are they able to do at the border?

  • Bob Moore:

    So, Governor Abbott tried to both politically and practically exploit what he sees as a lack of focus on the border by the Biden administration.

    So he's sent both Department of Public Safety troopers and the National Guard down to the border region, primarily down to what's known as the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas. We have not seen this nearly as much in El Paso.

    But, as of this week, the governor allowed the National Guard to begin enforcing Texas state law on issues such as trespassing as a means of apprehending migrants crossing the border. This raises some legal issues, especially with asylum seekers.

    But they're allowing the Guard now to serve in the civil law enforcement function. And the governor also announced yesterday that they're allowing the National Guard to begin working on the border wall, as they call it. The governor has vowed to use state funds and donated funds to continue the expansion of the wall that began in the Trump administration, but that the Biden administration has largely halted.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Bob, when you look, kind of take a step back, you know this administration's messaging on immigration stands in stark contrast to the previous one.

    But I do wonder operationally. For the Biden administration saying, we promise a safe and humane immigration policy, are you seeing a marked difference in what's going on at the border now vs. three, four years ago?

  • Bob Moore:

    I think that human rights organizations would say that there's not substantial difference in deeds on the border between the Biden administration and the Trump administration, largely because of the Title 42 expulsions that are going on.

    We continue to see, as I mentioned earlier, this outflow from Central America that's not going to abate with any border policies we adopt, because that doesn't directly address those conditions that are out there.

    Certainly, on our part of the border, things are not as hectic as they were in 2019. That's not the case in the Rio Grande Valley, in South Texas. Things are very hectic on both sides of the border, as the communities they're trying to grapple with these large numbers of migrant families in particular that are arriving.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That is Bob Moore, founder of the nonprofit news organization El Paso Matters.

    Bob, thanks for your time. Always good to see you.

  • Bob Moore:

    Thank you for having me.

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