EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Striking down the “Remain in Mexico” policy and other administrative tools the Trump administration has used to curtail illegal immigration could bring a new migrant surge to the Southwest border, a federal official
Thursday’s comments by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan came in response to Wednesday night’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court calling for the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program to end next week in California and Arizona.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, D.C., broadcast on YouTube, Morgan said the MPP program has acted as a deterrent for more families from Central America and elsewhere to come file “non-meritorious” asylum claims with the expectation of being released into the United States for two to three years anyway.
“MPP has sent a strong message […] to those that are thinking of paying a lot money putting their lives in the hands of a smuggler and trying to make this long journey based on a false or fraudulent claim. They know when they make it to our border they’re not going to be allowed into the United States,” Morgan said.
The 9th Circuit Court’s ruling not only threatens the Administration’s progress in reducing illegal immigration but also puts migrant families back in the hands of smuggling organizations to be exploited, he said.
“The latest MPP ruling could easily drive yet another surge, not only making our jobs harder to protect the Southwest border and safeguard this country, but it’s also going to re-energize the pull factors of illegal immigration, putting everyone once again at risk,” Morgan said. “The only winners on this are going to be the transnational criminal organizations as they continue to put more money in their bank accounts on the backs of these migrants.”
A two-judge majority at the 9th Circuit Court ruled that sending asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in the United States is unconstitutional. The Trump administration has sent more than 60,000 Central Americans and others to Mexico under the MPP program much to the horror of migrant advocates who say families are either being preyed upon by Mexican gangs or risk getting caught in a savage ongoing drug cartel war.
But Morgan actually blames the cartels for spurring the migrant wave that began on October 2018 and for herding thousands of Mexican and Brazilian families to the U.S. border now.
He said the cartels have been hit hard by Trump administration programs like MPP, which he credits with reducing the flow of illegal immigration. In May, the Southwest border saw more than 132,000 migrants taken into custody. That number dropped to 37,100 in February, a slight increase from January’s 36,650.
In fact, more migrants are now being deported than those who are being apprehended, a total reversal compared to last year, he said.
Morgan also took time to praise ongoing wall construction, saying it’s allowing CBP agents to influence drug trafficking routes to places they can more easily patrol. The goal will be to force drug traffickers to use the ports of entry — which they already use now, anyway — where the Trump administration plans to increase technology to stop their shipments, Morgan said.
“When we talk about the Southwest border it’s not just about illegal immigration — the wall is not just about illegal immigration,” he said. “Border security is national security. Every town, city and state is a border town because drugs don’t stay on the border, they find their way to every town” in the United States, he said.
In February, seizures of cocaine at the border were up 41%, fentanyl up 75%, heroin up 11% and methamphetamines up 30%.