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US southern border 'completely open'? That’s False
If Your Time is short
The Mexico border has not been left “completely open” for entry into the U.S.
In September, the last month for which data was available, immigration officials recorded 192,001 encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border, including 102,673 expulsions.
No policies have been changed since then that would make the borders more open.
- The vast majority of what are known as enforcement encounters result in U.S. immigration officials turning people away at the border.
Travel bans ordered by President Joe Biden in response to the new coronavirus variant triggered an article from the conservative Gateway Pundit website that carried this false headline:
"Due to the Seriousness of the New Omicron COVID Variant the Biden Admin Has Decided to Leave the US Southern Border Completely Open."
The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The headline links concern about the variant, which the article mocks, with the Biden administration’s border policy. The administration "was so shaken by the news that they decided to completely leave open the U.S. southern border with Mexico," the article said.
Has the U.S.-Mexico border been left completely open for anyone to cross?
No. And we’ve been here before.
In March, we rated False a claim that the border "is now open to anyone from anywhere in the world who wishes to enter our country." In April, we rated False a claim that the U.S. is locked down and there’s "a wide open border." And in July, we rated Mostly False a claim that Biden "is restricting travel for Americans into Mexico, but is keeping the border wide open for illegal aliens to walk right into our country."
Here’s what is happening now.
Biden has continued a policy — initiated by former President Donald Trump — to restrict Americans’ travel to Mexico, as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19. On Nov. 26, after omicron was identified in South Africa, Biden banned travel from South Africa and seven other African countries.
Most people trying to cross at the border into the U.S. are being turned away, under a March 2020 order by the Trump administration to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Biden administration is still enforcing that policy, although it’s exempting children who arrive alone, as well as some families.
The Mexico border is not "completely open" for entry into the U.S. Far from it.
"Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection are on the border and doing their jobs every day," said Theresa Cardinal Brown, managing director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The vast majority of what are known as enforcement encounters result in U.S. immigration officials turning people away at the border.
The idea that Biden has "decided to leave" the border open suggests that it has been open for some time. That is contradicted by immigration enforcement figures, which record enforcement actions prior to omicron.
Encounters data includes people who are placed in immigration proceedings and people who are quickly expelled.
Encounters at the southern border rose each month since Biden took office through July, before dropping the next two months. The latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show there were more than 1.7 million encounters during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
In September, the last month for which data was available, there were 192,001 encounters, 102,673 of which resulted in expulsion.
No policies have been changed that would make the borders more open, said Michelle Mittelstadt, spokesperson for the Migration Policy Institute.
Biden also moved to limit border crossings in another way. Homeland Security announced July 26 that it would quickly turn back migrant families that immigration officials determine do not qualify for asylum during a fast-tracked screening process.
On Dec. 2, after the Gateway Pundit article was posted, the Biden administration announced it would reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols. Also known as Remain in Mexico, the Trump-era policy required people seeking asylum without proper documentation to wait in Mexico for their immigration court date. The U.S. would also send migrants back to Mexico while their asylum claims are considered.
The claim that the U.S.-Mexico border is completely open is False.
Gateway Pundit, "Due to the Seriousness of the New Omicron COVID Variant the Biden Admin Has Decided to Leave the US Southern Border Completely Open," Nov. 26, 2021
PolitiFact, "US-Mexico border not ‘wide open,’ most people trying to enter US are turned away," July 28, 2021
PolitiFact, "Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro wrongly claims US border is ‘open to anyone from anywhere,’" March 23, 2021
PolitiFact, "The Biden administration is still enforcing that law, although it’s exempting children who arrive alone, as well as some families," April 15, 2021
PolitiFact, "What's true, what's unproven in Dan Patrick's claim about people apprehended at southwest border," Nov. 15, 2021
Homeland Security Department, "DHS, Justice, and State Prepare for Court-Ordered Reimplementation of MPP," Dec. 2, 2021
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "Southwest Land Border Encounters," Nov. 15, 2021
Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Reaches Deal to Restart ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program for Asylum Seekers," Dec. 2, 2021
Washington Post, "U.S. and Mexico reach deal to restart Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ program along border," Dec. 2, 2021
Email, Michelle Mittelstadt, director of communications at the Migration Policy Institute, Dec. 2, 2021
Email, Theresa Cardinal Brown, Bipartisan Policy Center managing director of immigration and cross-border policy, Dec. 2, 2021
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US southern border 'completely open'? That’s False
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