Flights to return illegal Central American migrant families had finally started, a source said.
The flights were initiated under Title 42, a Trump-era border policy that would expel undocumented migrants to restrict COVID-19 risks. The procedure was extended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this Monday, Aug. 2.
On Thursday, Aug. 5, about 200 Mexican and Central American families were transported back to southern Mexico on what would soon be routine flights, Reuters reported from a source.
The flights will transport adult illegal border crossers as part of the CDC’s extended rule, which does not aim at unaccompanied minor migrants.
Ineligible migrants will be denied asylum or other forms of protection in the United States under the policy. After a two-month trial, or until Oct. 2, the CDC would review if Title 42 should continue.
President Joe Biden reversed most of his predecessor's strict border policies as soon as he took office, although Title 42 had not been recalled. Biden officials argued the rule was essential to prevent overcrowding U.S. detention facilities during the pandemic.
Pro-migrant groups criticized Title 42, calling it inhumane. The day the CDC announced the extension, they relaunched their legal fight to block the Biden administration from using the law to deport families.
According to the outlet, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the measure strips migrants of their legal right to seek asylum and sends them back to Mexico, where they face significant risk.
"The Biden administration is apparently looking for new ways to expel people and in the process subject these desperate migrants to additional trauma," said lead ACLU lawyer in the lawsuit, Lee Gelernt.
However, the source told Reuters that the Biden administration seeks to collaborate with non-governmental groups and shelters in southern Mexico to guarantee that migrants can return home safely.
On Friday, July 30, Biden announced fast-track deportation flights of Central American migrant families who illegally crossed the U.S.–Mexico border.
Migrant families who do not have any legal basis to stay in the United States will be transported back to their homeland by air via a practice called “expedited removal."
The news media said that the expulsion flights to southern Mexico would be more rigorous than that practice.
This news came amid a heated controversy over reports that thousands of COVID-19 infected border crossers were released into the United States, which prompted the Texas border town of McAllen to declare a “local state of disaster.”
On Wednesday, a day before the Reuters’ update, Mexico affirmed that it would not fully comply with the extended Title 42.
The country had been refusing to take families from certain nationalities or with children of a certain age deported by the United States, especially those that are from noncontiguous countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.