U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Ken Salazar AFP

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar warned migrants they will face "great consequences" if they try to enter the United States unlawfully.

"They will be returned to their home countries and will not be allowed into the United States for five years," said Salazar.

His message follows a crackdown by the Biden administration on asylum-seeking, which started rejecting migrants entering the country between ports of entry when the weekly average of people reaches 2,500. It will reopen once the average drops to 1,500.

Department of Homeland Security officials said that apprehensions between ports of entry have by 25% (from 4,000 per day to 3,000) since the Biden administration implemented the executive order, according to a recent report by NBC News.

Mexico is playing a salient role in helping the figure decrease by wearing migrants out until they give up. Hundreds of migrants are being rounded up by Mexican authorities and sent to cities like Villahermosa and Tapachula.

Since these tactics were employed, arrivals to the U.S.-Mexico border have dropped 40% from their all-time high in December, and figures have continued decreasing trough the spring.

However, while border agents are sending back many migrants, they are releasing others into the U.S. while they pursue asylum claims in immigration courts due to a lack of viable alternatives, the officials added.

Enforcement of the action seems to be an issue, at least during its first weeks. Asides from this, officials are also not sending some migrants back to their countries of origin, as intended by the measure.

In some sections of the border, Central American migrants from countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are being sent back to Mexico. Without funding from Congress, the official said, authorities will continue with this course of action. Many migrants not accepted by Mexico will be let into the U.S., he added.

Concretely, migrants from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean are being sent back to Mexico, while migrants from the Eastern Hemisphere are being released into the U.S.

Moreover, authorities expect the drop in encounters to be short-lived. "We do see those declines in crossings whenever there's a new policy, but these smugglers quickly shift their strategies and their business, and smuggling humans and people will continue," said Hector Garza, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council. He added that there hasn't been real change and the state of affairs is the "status quo."

The administration got sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other immigrant advocacy organizations over the measure. The complaint was filed in a federal court in Washington D.C., with attorneys arguing that the decision violates a Congress' statute allowing migrants to request asylum regardless of whether they get to the country through a port of entry.

Biden administration officials, on their end, defended the decision. White House assistant press secretary Angelo Fernández Hernández said it was because "border encounters remain too high," while referring inquiries to the Department of Justice.

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