(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been revised to indicate detention numbers from May 2023 compare to May 2019 data)
HARLINGEN, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had a big drop of detainees in ICE custody and reflects decreasing numbers of migrant encounters since Title 42 was lifted.
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, of Syracuse University, which tracks all immigration cases nationwide, found the number of asylum-seekers in ICE detention was 27,330 at the end of May; that’s down from nearly 40,000 in May 2019.
Of those detained, 61% — or 16,705 — had no criminal record, according to TRAC data.
Most of the detainees are in Texas, which has nearly 10,000 in custody, TRAC said.
The South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall, Texas and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, each have over 1,200 migrants in custody, as of May 21, according to ICE data analyzed by TRAC.
The Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego had 750 in custody, and the El Paso Service Processing Center had 600, TRAC reported.
Title 42 was lifted by the Biden administration on May 11. The pandemic-era health policy prevented migrants from claiming asylum at the U.S. border in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Title 42 had been in place since March 2020, and when it was lifted, it was replaced by Title 8 removal orders.
Under Title 8, asylum seekers must apply for asylum interviews using the CBP One app. Interviews are conducted at Southwest border ports of entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Migrants can also apply for interviews at processing centers that the U.S. State Department is opening in Latin American and Caribbean countries with the United Nations.
Asylum-seekers also must claim asylum in the first countries they cross before coming to the United States.
Those who do not take these “legal pathways” are subject to removal and withdrawal from the United States, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Blas Nunez-Neto said Wednesday as he visited South Texas.
“We have seen, and I think everybody knows, a significant decrease in encounters at the border. More than 70% reduction since the lifting of Title 42,” Nunez-Net said.
And he warned that migrants who have been removed because they do not meet the requirements to claim humanitarian parole in the United States must wait five years before trying to cross again. If they enter before that, they face criminal prosecution and a possible 20-year ban.