Awareness - March 21, 2022 - We Welcome

Awareness - March 21, 2022

10 million Ukrainians have been displaced in less than one month

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Sunday that 10 million people – about a quarter of the total population –  have been displaced from their homes in Ukraine since the war began. As of Monday morning, about 3.5 million of those had fled across the border as refugees.

With neighboring countries taking in such a rapidly increasing number of arrivals – Poland alone has welcomed over 2 million – it becomes increasingly apparent that other countries such as the United States will need to step up to provide more support. For those seeking safety in the United States, there aren’t currently many options. This situation highlights how the U.S. immigration system is slow and complicated, and does not offer many realistic avenues for those who need to quickly flee a desperate situation. Our refugee resettlement program takes years to navigate, but those fleeing war do not have that time to wait. Other types of visas, even for those with family in the United States, are subject to long waiting lists and complicated rules. 

CBP February stats showed a 7% increase in border encounters

While the number of border encounters increased 7% to 164,973 in February, the increase in the number of unique individuals was only 2%. The majority of encounters (76%) continue to be with single adults, and 55% of the total encounters were processed for Title 42 expulsions. 

The number of unaccompanied children encountered at the border increased sharply since January with 12,011 total encounters. CBP reported an average of 520 unaccompanied children in custody per day, compared to 295 in January. 

Title 42 reaches a two year milestone

In the two years following its inception, the Title 42 policy has led to over 1.7 million expulsions and has often been applied in discriminatory ways. Over 20,000 Haitians have been returned to a country that was deemed so unsafe that DHS extended Temporary Protected Status last year – therefore Haitians in the U.S. as of May 21, 2021 were protected, while those arriving after that date have been expelled in large numbers. Also, DHS issued guidance to allow for exceptions to be made for Ukrainians seeking asylum, while Russians fleeing the war and Putin’s oppressive leadership are being turned back.

Furthermore, Human Rights First has tracked thousands of reported acts of violence against those expelled to Mexico due to Title 42. Their latest report shows 9,886 instances of torture, kidnapping, rape, and other violent crimes against migrants expelled to Mexico under Title 42 since President Biden took office. 

Among the other devastating effects of Title 42, the policy has also led to higher rates of repeat crossings at the southern U.S. border. Migrants apprehended at the border are rapidly expelled without processing and do not face the same consequences for trying again that they would with an official deportation order. This has led to unusually high rates of recidivism in recent years. In February 30% of those apprehended had attempted to cross the border at least once before in the prior 12 months, while historic rates of recidivism average 14%. This has been a significant factor in the high numbers of border encounters that we’ve seen since 2021: many people are being counted twice (or more) as the reported numbers from CBP are the total number of encounters, not the number of unique individuals encountered.

Chart from WOLA Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update for 18 March 2022. Accessed 03/21/2022.