US to reopen border crossings as illegal immigration drops

US to reopen border crossings as illegal immigration drops

WASHINGTON (Reuters) : The United States will reopen four legal US-Mexico border crossings on Thursday as high levels of illegal immigration have receded and freed up personnel, US border authorities said on Tuesday.

The US will resume operations at an international bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas, two crossings in Arizona and another near San Diego, California, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a press release, adding that it will continue to prioritise border security “as necessary.”

US border authorities struggled in December to process migrants as apprehensions reached nearly 11,000 in a single day, which several current and former officials said was near or at a record high.

Mexican and US officials pledged last week to work together more closely to tackle record migration at their shared border after top US officials traveled to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“We gotta do something. They ought to give me the money I need to protect the border,” US President Joe Biden told reporters on his arrival at the White House on Tuesday evening, apparently referring to members of Congress.

Mexican officials have stepped up immigration enforcement in recent weeks, including moving migrants to southern Mexico and resuming deportation flights to Venezuela, a senior US official said during a call with reporters on Tuesday, requesting anonymity as a condition of the briefing.

US border authorities arrested an average of 6,400 migrants per day over the past week, according to an internal US government report reviewed by Reuters, a steep decline from the levels before Christmas.

A separate US official on the call cautioned that migrant crossings have historically dropped between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“We have seen over the last year periods of increased encounters and periods of decreased encounters,” the official said. “We will continue to stand ready to respond to these kinds of surges.”

Lawmakers in the US Congress remain in talks over a possible deal that would combine increased border security measures with foreign aid, including military funding for Ukraine, officials said.