HOUSTON, Texas -- It's been nearly two months since the end of Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy that allowed the United States to quickly turn away migrants at the border during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts anticipated a large influx of asylum seekers when the ban expired on May 11. But instead, border officials saw the number of crossings drop by 70% in the first month. So, what happened here?
A new policy may be one of the deterrents for asylum seekers making their way from South America. A Houston-based immigration attorney, Kimberly Bruno, explains how applicants must now show they've been denied asylum in every single country they've traveled through before they'll even be considered in the U.S.
"That's very difficult for a lot of people because, before Title 42, you could cross through five different countries, get to the United States, and seek asylum," Bruno said.
Dr. Sergio Lira with LULAC Greater Houston Council told ABC13 back in May that another reason may be due to cartels, who can charge about $12,000 per person with the deceitful promise to get them to the U.S.
"They're separating the families. For example, some of the children and mothers can go. But the fathers 'stay here until you pay us. If not, serious consequences will happen.' So, they're catching on. And they're not going to risk a family member or a loved one for the sake of coming over here," Lira said.
Bruno adds the drop may be due to a new app created by the U.S. government called CBP One, meant to help asylum seekers secure an appointment before being granted entry at the border.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CBP One app saw 1,070 noncitizens presented in a "safe and orderly manner at a port of entry each day to be processed during their scheduled appointment time." As of June 1, CBP expanded the number of available appointments to 1,250 daily.
Bruno said some migrants expressed frustration over the app's issues.
"A lot of potential clients and people have told me that the app glitches, it shuts off, and they can't log back in," she said.
Experts and advocates said it's very hard to predict whether the trend will continue in this direction or if we may see a spike at some point in time since there are so many factors at play here. For now, they'll be waiting to see what happens in the next couple of months.