Apprehensions continue on South Texas border after ‘asylum ban’ enacted


HIDALGO, Texas (Border Report) — Under a scorching 102-degree sun on Wednesday, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended six women and young children in a dusty area near the border wall that is popular for illegal border crossings.

The apprehensions came under the new executive order issued by President Joe Biden on Tuesday, meaning these migrants must tell agents that they have a fear of returning to their home countries, or meet other strenuous circumstances in order to receive a credible fear interview and be considered for U.S. asylum. Otherwise, they face removal, detention or deportation.

A Border Patrol agent told Border Report that the women and two young girls and a small infant would be processed at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility but would give no further details.

An infant and young girl were among a group apprehended by Border Patrol agents on Wednesday in Hidalgo, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

Migrant advocates say the new asylum rule is in effect an “asylum ban” and sets too high a bar and will exclude many.

Under the new rules, migrants also will be considered for asylum if they are unaccompanied children, have an acute medical condition, or are victims of extreme forms of human trafficking.

The new rules “will better enable the Department to quickly remove individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States, strengthening enforcement and change the calculus for those considering crossing our border irregularly,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Norma Sepulveda, an immigration lawyer who is also the mayor of the nearby South Texas border town of Harlingen, was one of several officials invited to the White House on Tuesday when Biden announced the asylum changes.

She told Border Report on Wednesday that she welcomes immigration reform and she is glad that this measure includes exceptions that will allow some to claim asylum, rather than an all-out ban.

“What I did take from it is that people will still be able to continue to apply and to gain entry into the United States through the CBP One app. And so those will continue and will not be counted towards that total. And folks will still be able to enter the United States in a lawful manner, and to be able to do so in a safe way,” Sepulveda said.

Under the order, asylum claims will be restricted if encounters between legal ports of entry along the Southwest border average 2,500 over seven days. And it won’t be lifted until migrant encounters hit 1,500 for seven consecutive days.

Sepulveda says Congress needs to act to permanently reform immigration policies because under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, anyone who arrives on U.S. soil — whether at a legal port of entry, or not — has a legal right to claim asylum.

“Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum.”

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act: 8USC 1158 (a)

Sepulveda says the way the law is currently written actually encourages asylum-seekers to enter the United States irregularly, in between legal ports of entry.

“For years and years — 20 to 30 years — people have known that if they enter the United States without inspection, that the law allows for applying for asylum. And you could not apply for asylum in your home country. If you wanted to come into the United States it had to be done either at a port of entry, or it had to be done within the U.S. … And if you went to the port of entry, you were considered an arriving alien and subject to mandatory detention,” Sepulveda said. “It really deterred people from going to a port of entry and incentivize people to cross without inspection.”

“Biden’s trying to do his best to change that,” she said, adding we need “congressional action that we need to remove that, and to to really revamp our immigration laws.”

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at

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