Hi, I'm Ted Hesson, an immigration reporter for Reuters in Washington, D.C. My work focuses on the policy and politics of immigration, asylum, and border security.

For more than three years, I've been following the effects of COVID-19 border restrictions that have cut off many migrants from claiming asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The restrictions were originally issued under a March 2020 order known as Title 42. The order allows U.S. authorities to quickly expel migrants caught crossing the border illegally back to Mexico or other countries without the chance to request U.S. asylum.

U.S. health officials originally said the policy was needed to prevent the spread of COVID in immigration detention facilities, but critics said it was part of Republican former President Donald Trump's goal of reducing legal and illegal immigration.

The U.S. ended the COVID public health emergency at 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 11, which also ended the Title 42 border restrictions.

U.S. border authorities have warned that illegal border crossings could climb higher now that the COVID restrictions are gone. The number of migrants caught crossing illegally had already been at record levels since President Joe Biden, a Democrat, took office.

To deter illegal crossings, Biden issued a new regulation this week that will deny asylum to most migrants crossing the border illegally while also creating new legal pathways.

But it remains unclear whether the U.S. will have the resources to detain and deport people who fail to qualify for asylum and whether migrants will choose to use Biden's new legal pathways.

Biden’s strict new asylum regulation will likely face legal challenges, too. Similar measures implemented by Trump were blocked in court.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/amn6a60s99za1.jpg

Comments: 869 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

rd_rd_rd1019 karma

As a non American I always wonder why border protection against illegal immigrants in the United States is considered to be sensitive issue? Isn't border protection is basically normal procedure for every country to protect their country from outside danger?

reuters80 karma

Not all borders around the world are the same. And they all certainly don’t have the same level of border security. The issue at the U.S.-Mexico border is highly politicized even as illegal border crossings have been happening since the start of the Border Patrol a century ago. TH


Did kids in cages end when Biden took office?

reuters122 karma

Unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border illegally are still held for short periods of time in border facilities (it’s supposed to be less than 72 hours) but the Biden administration has increased the speed that they are transferred to the custody of U.S. Health and Human Services, which places them in shelters or with sponsors. Border authorities have tried to improve the holding facilities generally but ultimately they are still being detained. TH

ishdflyingfish52 karma

Hi Ted, What is the plan for folks that will be deported to Mexico, but are NOT Mexican?

Also, are they still separating families?

reuters85 karma

Under Title 42, the U.S. was able to “expel” non-Mexicans to Mexico without the chance to request asylum in the U.S. Now that Title 42 is over, the U.S. and Mexico have reached an agreement that will allow certain non-Mexicans - namely Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans - to be deported or returned to Mexico under standard U.S. immigration law. The reason the Biden administration wanted this arrangement is because people from those countries have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in relatively large numbers. It is harder to deport people from those countries because of tense diplomatic relations (Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela) and logistical reasons (Haiti). It remains unclear how Mexican authorities will process them on arrival. Regarding family separation, the Biden administration opposes the separation of migrant families and does not have a systematic policy of doing that (as we saw at one point under Trump). Families are still separated at times, but not in the same systematic way. TH

tragicmike44 karma

Is there a high number of non Hispanic country immigrants making their way to the border such as the middle east, Asia, eastern europe using the same caravan routes to gain access to the US?

reuters70 karma

The numbers of migrants from some non-Hispanic countries caught crossing illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border have risen in recent months and years as part of the overall increase in those numbers (they’ve hit record levels under Biden). My Reuters colleagues have written a few excellent articles about the trends:
1. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-immigration-afghanistan/
2. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-immigration-china/ TH

Otherwise_Comfort_9527 karma

Do you feel Trumps border was more secure than Biden’s?

reuters22 karma

The definition of border security has become highly politicized and depends on whether you equate security with volume of people. For example, some Republican lawmakers have said the U.S. needs “operational control” of the border - literally no illegal crossing attempts. Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, Biden’s top border official, regularly says, “The border is not open” even as tens of thousands of migrants cross into the U.S. When you cut through the rhetoric, DHS appears to have better technology and capability than ever before to secure the border (against actual threats, not just people claiming asylum or coming for economic reasons). TH

Big-Exam-25924 karma

How are they going to handle the interviews for credible fear as they are under staffed?

reuters25 karma

We will definitely find out in the coming days and weeks. The Biden administration wants to do these interviews within 24 hours, but some people wonder if the volume of cases will be too overwhelming. TH

TopEar218 karma

is this positive or negative for migrants trying to enter the United States? will it help them?

reuters63 karma

The answer depends on how people try to enter the U.S. The Biden administration issued a strict new asylum regulation that took the place of Title 42 beginning today. Under that regulation, most people who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are likely to be denied asylum. But Biden also expanded legal pathways from abroad. So people who qualify for those new pathways may be able to enter that way. Pro-immigration advocates say that’s not enough and that Biden shouldn’t be restricting access to asylum at the border. TH

AbWarriorG16 karma


Do you think any chaos that happens now will affect the chances of legal migrants who want to come to the US the right way?

I'm waiting to get an invitation from a relative already there and we are worried the absolute chaos now might result in a future administration cracking down on legal/illegal migration indiscriminately.

reuters27 karma

The answer to that depends a lot on how you are planning to come to the U.S. The Biden administration has made it clear they don’t want people to cross the border illegally and would prefer them to apply through legal avenues abroad or schedule an appointment. It’s hard to say what a future administration would do, but Trump generally tried to reduce both legal and illegal immigration. TH

unSanctioned27 karma


reuters12 karma

I can’t say I’m very familiar with this topic. But I would say look for trustworthy sources before jumping to any conclusions. TH

Clear-Sail-82186 karma

I'm understanding this new rule is that they have to go into an app and say they want to enter, and then they will be, correct? Also it seems this rule is quite last minute. If they didn't have a phone in Mexico, will they be send back, or just be considered an " unlawful " entry and be let in. Thank You

reuters12 karma

Biden’s new asylum rule sets a strict standard for who can qualify for asylum if they cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. People who pass through another country (including Mexico) without first seeking asylum there or fail to use U.S. legal pathways will be presumed ineligible. There are some exceptions (for unaccompanied children, for instance), but they are limited. TH

Thin_Ad53423 karma

How will this new rule impact Afghans and other special interest aliens who may be seeking asylum in the United States via the Southwest border?

reuters10 karma

The rule broadly presumes migrants who cross illegally are ineligible for asylum if they passed through other countries without seeking protection or failed to use U.S. legal pathways from abroad. TH

sephstorm3 karma

Trying to get a better answer than I got yesterday, what are the real options for a true solution to immigration issues?

reuters9 karma

This isn’t unique to immigration, but it’s much easier and impactful for Congress to make policy changes than an administration since they make the laws. The hard part of this question is that people’s definition of a “true solution” varies by political affiliation. TH

geonic_2 karma

Do you feel that with these policies, Biden has reneged in his campaign promises?

reuters24 karma

Biden pledged as a candidate in 2020 to reverse the restrictive asylum policies of then-President Donald Trump. He did undo some of those policies after taking office, but kept the Title 42 expulsions in place for more than a year after taking office (courts ordered Title 42 to stay in place for longer). The new Biden asylum rule is very similar to restrictive asylum policies that Trump tried to implement but saw blocked by U.S. judges. So it’s clear Biden has embraced a more restrictive stance on asylum as president than he had as a candidate. But the Biden administration counters that they have expanded legal pathways for migrants who apply from abroad or who schedule an appointment to approach a port of entry. TH

Devjorcra2 karma

Is President Biden's new regulation consistent with border policy and enforcement under his administration, or is it a policy departure in an effort to appease anti-immigration crowds?

Thank you for your work and this AMA!

reuters8 karma

The rule is arguably the most restrictive immigration policy that Biden has implemented and closely mirrors similar Trump policies that were blocked in court. At the same time, Biden has offered deportation relief to hundreds of thousands of people living without legal status in the U.S. So you can see a difference in policy at the border versus for people already in the country. TH

reuters1 karma

Signing off!

Thanks for all of the thoughtful questions, Reddit. We'll be following the story in the days and weeks ahead so be sure to follow along on Reuters.com and across the Reuters social accounts: https://twitter.com/Reuters




Jerseycityjoan1 karma

How much does what the public thinks about immigration influence what elected officials do? It seems to me that like it or not, no matter who is president we keep getting lots of people. Biden's move to hand out papers to lots more people so they won't be here illegally won't change that.

reuters5 karma

Elected officials are always somewhat sensitive to what the public might think (they got elected, after all). In Biden’s case, he has shown some flexibility to change his position on border issues during his presidency. As a candidate, he said he would “restore” asylum access taken away under Trump. But here we see him implementing a very Trump-like policy at the border. TH

thelostcanuck1 karma

Curious how the Title 42 will impact the safe third country agreement on the northern border of the US?

reuters3 karma

I’m not sure what the impact will be. But we will be watching, too. TH

ferrispanda08081 karma

Hello, what does the ‘ending’ of title 42 mean for folks who are in the process of obtaining citizenship/green card/ visa?

reuters3 karma

There is not an overt effect on people applying for citizenship, green cards or visas. But some 500 staffers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the people who handle immigration paperwork) have been detailed to work on asylum cases at the border with the current rise in people crossing illegally. It’s possible ongoing cases related to asylum could move more slowly because of that. TH

Philboyd_Studge-4 karma

The number of migrants caught crossing illegally had already been at record levels since President Joe Biden, a Democrat, took office.

So, doesn't more migrants being caught mean our border control is better under Biden?

reuters19 karma

That’s a good question. The number of migrants caught crossing the border illegally is an imperfect way to describe the level of illegal crossings, but it’s the best publicly available measurement. U.S. border authorities also have a statistic informally called “gotaways” that estimates the number of migrants who crossed the border illegally but without being apprehended. There is some debate about the accuracy of that figure though and it is not regularly made available to the public. So the short answer is that the number of people caught is the best way to gauge the volume of illegal crossings. TH