US reopens border crossings, migration slows after record year

US reopens border crossings, migration slows after record year

Immigrants at the Mexican-US border at Eagle Pass on December 22.Image by AFP

The decline is significant after one year of records. The number of immigrants at the US southern border has risen from half a million a year to 2.5 million in three years. The number of deportations has doubled from last year, though it's still below the Trump administration's level.

Most immigrants to the United States come from Central and South America and must first travel north by land. In 2023, half a million migrants tried to reach the north through the dangerous Darien Gap. They sought to escape growing poverty, crime and inflation in their own countries, mainly Venezuela, Haiti and Ecuador. The number of people crossing this jungle between Panama and Colombia almost doubles each year, although not all make the crossing.

A decline was expected in June when President Biden tightened asylum rules. From May 2023, reapplying for asylum after being rejected will be a punishable offence. Immigrants are only allowed to apply for asylum if they have previously tried in a country en route to the United States. The decline is now due to tighter Mexican border controls following deals with the US.

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