A new program – in development over the last decade – divides border crossers into seven categories. The categories range from first-time border crossers to people with criminal records. Many factors go into assigning people. These include first-time violators who might be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges. Others may be sent by plane to Mexico City or taken by bus to a border crossing hundreds of miles away from where they crossed.
The only people who will be turned around and sent back immediately will be children and the medically ill.
The Border Patrol is now equipped to handle border crossers using these new tools.
The rest of the government may not be. The legal system is already burdened with too many cases. The jails are full. The program is expensive to run.
One goal of the program is to target smugglers. They may be brought to the Mexican government for prosecution. The pay for smugglers has gone to more than $3,000. Many smugglers are now asking to be paid in advance.
With a weak U.S. economy and better enforcement, the number of border crossings has gone down.
A migration expert said said the new approach makes sense. She added, it is unclear if the new policy will discourage migrants.