(CNN) — The Biden government is considering deporting non-Mexican migrants to Mexico, in an unprecedented move to stem the flow of migrants to the southern US border, according to two Homeland Security officials.
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has had to deal with the growing number of immigrants on the US-Mexico border, drawing criticism from Republicans and concern from some Democrats.
To manage the large influx, the administration has relied on a Trump-era Covid-19 restriction, called Title 42, to turn away certain migrants at the US-Mexico border.
But with time running out for its possible expiration and amid ongoing litigation, officials are weighing other enforcement measures as thousands of migrants continue to move north.
The plan under consideration, first reported by The Washington Post, would make use of a fast-track removal process known as “expedited removal.” Administration officials have repeatedly mentioned the duplication of this procedure when discussing post-Title 42 plans.
Although Mexico has taken in migrants under Title 42 and previously under a Trump-era border policy known as “Remain in Mexico,” this appears to be the first time the Latin American country would readmit non-Mexican deportees on a large scale. Negotiations between Washington and its southern neighbor are ongoing, the officials said.
CNN has contacted the Department of Homeland Security for comment. An administration official denied the reports.
“Reports that we are considering mass deportations of non-Mexicans to Mexico are false,” the official said. “We are focused on continuing to work closely with the Government of Mexico to implement our successful border control plan. That plan has already resulted in the lowest numbers of border encounters between ports of entry in two years.”
Over the years, the United States has often asked Mexico for help in coping with the surge of migrants heading north. Last month, Biden visited Mexico and praised President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for accepting migrants turned away under Title 42.
“We also want to thank you, Mr. President, for stepping up to receive into Mexico those who do not follow the legal avenues that we have made available to them, rather than trying to cross the border between our countries illegally,” Biden said in his January speech at the North American Leaders Summit.
Changes in migration patterns have strained federal resources, as border authorities have encountered increasing numbers of Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. Due to tense diplomatic relations, the United States cannot deport migrants of these nationalities to their countries of origin.
Since then, Washington has begun sending migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to Mexico under Title 42 and has opened a separate program that allows migrants from those nationalities and from Haiti to apply to enter the United States legally. Thousands of immigrants have already applied.
Administration officials have blamed the program for the recent decline in border crossings.
“This is a very novel approach to creating safe and legal pathways based on the fundamental premise, which has proven to be true historically, that people will wait if we provide them with a safe and legal pathway to come here,” he told reporters this week. month the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
While immigrant advocates have welcomed the program, they have denounced the administration’s enforcement actions that they say make it even more difficult for asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the US.
A rule that could prevent some immigrants from seeking asylum in the United States is also expected to be published shortly, marking a new attempt by the administration to try to manage mass migration in the region.