Mexico agrees to take back more migrants from Cuba and Nicaragua under Trump-era Covid rules

US border officials are expanding use of Title 42 which denies migrants a chance at asylum, even as they say publicly they are unwinding the power

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The Biden administration has quietly begun expelling Cubans and Nicaraguans to Mexico under the Title 42 public health order that denies migrants the chance to seek asylum, officials say.

The US struck an agreement with Mexico to expel up to 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans a day from San Diego, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“This was done due to the exponential increase in arrivals from both countries to Mexico and the United States,” a Mexican official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity.

The move shows US border officials are expanding use of the pandemic-era emergency measure which denies migrants a chance at asylum on the grounds of preventing the spread of Covid-19, even as the White House says publicly it is trying to unwind the power.

Lifting Title 42 has proven controversial as midterm elections near, with Democrats in swing states such as Arizona and Georgia coming out strongly against the move amid concern that the US is unprepared for an anticipated increase in migrants seeking asylum.

The latest expulsions began 27 April 27 and will end 22 May, the day before Title 42 is set to expire.

It comes as the number of Cuban and Nicaraguan migrants arriving at the border has hit record highs in recent months.

Migrants pass through a gap in the border wall near Yuma in Arizona (file)

Nearly 35,000 Cubans were stopped at border crossings in April, the second largest figure from a single country.

Some 12,500 Nicaraguans were apprehended in April.

Overall, authorities stopped migrants more than 234,000 times in April, the highest mark in 22 years.

Due to frosty relations between the US and the Cuban and Nicaraguan governments, it is almost impossible to expel migrants to those countries.

Nearly 2 million migrants have been expelled from the US since the Trump administration implemented the emergency public health order in March 2020.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told The Independent it is continuing to operate within the provisions of Title 42 while it remains in place.

“Our ability to expel individuals under that authority may be limited for several reasons, including Mexico’s capacity to receive those individuals.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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