Migrants trying to reach the US near Juarez
Migrants trying to reach the United States are seen near the US-Mexico border, in Ciudad Juarez. Reuters

Some 140,000 migrants were apprehended when trying to cross the U.S. southern border in February, according to Border Patrol figures.

The number is still much lower than the 302,000 recorded in December, but higher than January's 124,000, as reported by CBS News. And authorities are expecting crossings to spike again as spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, a period when flows have historically increased.

Preliminary numbers from March confirm the trend: the outlet reported that border officials processed more than 7,000 migrants in 24 hours. Should the level of apprehensions continue throughout the entire month, the final figure would surpass 200,000.

However, migratory flows and volume could change drastically, as the issue takes centerstage during the electoral year. Both parties are now calling the issue a crisis and Democrats are considering taking unilateral actions as congressional negotiations have reached a stalemate.

The Biden administration's potential measures, as reported by NBC News, include some that would make it harder to qualify for asylum and others that would make it easier to quickly deport people who don't meet the criteria for this.

Quoting three people with knowledge of the deliberations, the report claims that asylum officers would be instructed to raise the standards of "credible fear interviews," the first step in the screening process for those who cross the border illegally. Moreover, law enforcement officials would be told to prioritize recently arrived migrants for deportation.

The administration is also seeking to stem the flow by preventing migrants from reaching the southern border. Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting with Mexico's and Guatemala's foreign ministers for this purpose. Blinken stated that the trilateral meeting underscored the necessity to "double down" on collaboration to address the challenges of migratory flows in the region.

The shift in rhetoric comes as almost 80% of people in the U.S. believe the soaring of crossings in the southern border of the country is a grave problem and that the Biden administration is not doing a good job addressing it, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

The other end of the ideological spectrum is crafting or already implementing its own crackdown. Former President Donald Trump is expected to carry out a set of policies described as "the largest domestic deportation operation in American history," including the use of the military for these purposes and the building of mass detention camps.

He has also said he will use local police to carry out deportations of immigrants who crossed the southern border illegally should he be elected in this year's elections. He also said he would give "immunity" to police officers to do "the job they have to do." "It's going to be the local police are going to turn them over, and we're going to have to move them back to their country," Trump added in an interview with Fox News.

But some Republican officials are already seeking to seal their borders. Texas' administration is in the middle of a legal battle to implement SB4, a law that would allow local law enforcement to arrest and deport migrants who cross illegally into the state. The law is temporarily suspended as of Monday night, following a Supreme Court decision to do so and block its going into effect this week.

However, other measures have led to a shift in migratory patterns that have made Arizona the state with the most apprehensions in fiscal year 2024 (which starts in October 2023), while illegal crossings through Texas have dropped.

Tucson is the busiest area within the state. Overall, authorities have arrested a little over quarter million people, the most of any region patrolled by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the southwest region of the country (between Texas and California).

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