Here are four reasons why there was no influx of migrants after Title 42

The number of migrants illegally crossing the southwestern United States border is at its lowest level since the start of the Biden administration, with just over 3,000 migrants apprehended by Border Patrol each day. The number fell by more than 10,000 a day just three weeks ago, despite widespread predictions of a rise after the Title 42 Covid ban ended on May 11.

And there may also be fewer migrants just waiting on the other side of the border to cross. Shortly before Title 42 was lifted, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz estimated that up to 65,000 migrants were living in shelters and tent cities in Mexico, ready to enter the United States. the population of more than 130 shelters in northern Mexico had fallen from more than 25,000 on May 19 to just over 20,000 on Monday.

What happened?

More migrants are using the asylum app: Shelter operators in Tijuana say migrants in their shelters are increasingly turning to the CBP One app, the mobile app for making appointments at U.S. ports of entry to seek asylum.

Although the app remains problematic and difficult to use, recent improvements have enabled more than 1,000 migrants a day to use it and have a 23 hour window for making appointments and an additional 23 hours to accept, according to a new study from the University of Texas. at the Strauss Center in Austin, which conducted a recent survey of asylum procedures across the US-Mexico border. Previously, migrants were quickly excluded from the system when it reached daily capacity, leading to frustration and, in one case, a rush at the port of entry in El Paso, Texas. With more migrants applying to present themselves legally for asylum, fewer are trying to cross illegally.

“Consequences”: Customs and Border Protection officials also attribute the slowdown in illegal border crossings to “consequences”. Under Title 42, migrants could repeatedly attempt to cross the US-Mexico border and face no consequences if turned back. After Title 42 ends, migrants who are caught illegally entering the United States are charged with a felony if deported and caught trying to re-enter the United States within five years , a reimposition of an older regulation called Title 8. A CBP official has said word of the increased penalties and deportations — “consequences” — have hit migrants planning to cross.

However, other factors likely to keep the numbers low are more temporary, according to U.S. and foreign officials who monitor global migration patterns.

Time: A Colombian official said fewer migrants have crossed from Colombia to Panama along the dangerous Darien Gap in recent weeks due to the rainy season, which has made the journey all the more muddy, slippery and treacherous. The Colombian official said that as the weather improves, he expects the number of migrants, especially those from Venezuela, to increase.

New asylum restrictions: A Department of Homeland Security official said the agency also attributes the decline to the policy known as asylum ineligibility put in place after Title 42 ended. Under the new policy, migrants who do not first seek asylum in the countries they pass through on their way to the United States are considered ineligible to seek asylum at the U.S. border, unless they have been refused by a country they have passed through or prove they meet a special set of criteria, such as being potential victims of torture if deported.

But the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge in the Northern District of California to block the asylum ineligibility policy. The first hearing is scheduled for July 19. The DHS official said if the judge blocks the policy and prevents the Biden administration from denying these migrants asylum, the administration may soon see more migrants attempting to cross illegally to seek asylum rather than use the CBP One app.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp group chats among migrants hoping to make it to the United States remain active with advice, advertisements and first-hand accounts of what to expect in a post-Title 42 environment.

“Could someone send me a VPN (virtual private network) that would work for applying from my country?” asked one person in a CBP One WhatsApp group, providing a screenshot of an error message from the app stating that they must be in Mexico to request an appointment.

In another group chat, the smugglers also continue to offer their services through videos and images attesting to their “success” in smuggling migrants through and around the Darien Gap using boats.

“I don’t lie to my people. Zero danger. No crossing of the jungle. The safest route. We have the best prices,” said one user, sharing a video from a guide named “Manueito” showing a group of migrants cheering and donning life jackets as they load onto boats.

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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