The measures have allowed the agency to turn away most unauthorized migrants, sending them back across the Mexican border. The moves have dramatically slashed the number of detainees held in border stations, where they fear the coronavirus could spread, the officials said. CBP currently has fewer than 100 detainees in custody, down from nearly 20,000 at this time last year during last year’s border crisis, officials said.
Since the implementation of the rapid expulsions, unlawful border crossings have dropped 56 percent, said acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan. Morgan also acknowledged that the United States has all but closed its borders to asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution, including those who attempt to enter legally at US ports of entry.
“Those who are undocumented or don’t have documents or authorization are turned away,” Morgan said.
Democratic lawmakers have accused the administration of defying U.S. laws and exceeding the authority of the coronavirus public health order, but Morgan defended the emergency measures as a necessary step to stop the spread of the disease.