US authorities began on Friday deporting some migrant families on flights to Central America as part of an expedited system to remove people who arrived without authorization via Mexico.
Expedited deportations have been a tactic used by both Republican and Democratic administrations in an effort to deter illegal border crossings, and comes amid a spike in arrivals.
The Department of Homeland Security said the families were sent back to their home countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, but did not provide a number of people.
“The expedited removal process is a lawful means to securely manage our border, and it is a step toward our broader aim to realize safe and orderly immigration processing,” DHS said in a statement.
The number of migrants caught by US authorities illegally crossing the Mexico border surged by 4.5 percent in June, despite predictions of a falloff in hot summer weather, officials said in July.
The southern US border has drawn record numbers of migrants throughout the pandemic and after Central America was battered by a series of destructive storms.
Republican lawmakers have slammed President Joe Biden for reversing Trump-era immigration restrictions, including the “remain in Mexico” policy, which had forced thousands of asylum seekers from Central America to stay south of the US border until their claims were processed.
Biden officials announced plans Monday to use the expedited deportation flights after another jump in the number of undocumented Central American families crossing.
About one-third of those caught in June by US authorities were from Mexico, followed by three Central American countries: the so-called Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Most South American migrants came from Ecuador and Venezuela.
The number of children crossing without parents or guardians in June, whom the US government promises to resettle in the United States rather than push back into Mexico, jumped by eight percent from May, totaling 15,253 — or more than 500 minors a day