Intersection of growing border crisis and COVID-19
U.S. Border Patrol agents are seeing smugglers transporting undocumented immigrants in increasingly dangerous conditions. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

WASHINGTON (SBG) — Along the southern border, changes have been swift. The Washington Post reports a major shift in immigration policy with fewer arrests and deportations. 

(Video: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

A frustrated ICE agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the article called the pendulum swing "extreme," saying they’ve gone from the ability to fully enforce immigration laws to now being told to enforce nothing.

In 2019, during a trip to the Texas-Mexico border and a mexican Military base, then Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., touted a brand new partnership with Mexico, where troops would help with enforcement and the country would take part in the Migrant Protection Protocols program, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy.

FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2021, file photo injured women, part of a Honduran migrant caravan in their bid to reach the U.S. border, weep as they sit on the side of a highway after clashing with Guatemalan police and soldiers in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, Guatemala. (AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian, File)

Now there are growing signs that partnership may be waning. CBP has confirmed Mexico is no longer accepting some family groups; the country is overwhelmed by the number of migrants from Central America, as well as the threat from the coronavirus pandemic. It has increased concerns for ICE and Border Patrol agents in this country, with reports of thousands of migrants still making the trek, possibly arriving at U.S. borders in a matter of days.

"They’re seeing these incredible caravans coming their way," said former Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan, in a Jan. 25 interview. "These are mobile petri dishes for COVID-19. They know once they get to the border, they’re gonna be kept in unsanitary stash houses. They know they’re going to be jammed in tractor trailers and that's what they're going to encounter."

Data on CBP's website shows 6,778 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 with 24 dying from the virus, as many others remain fearful of spreading the virus.

"They're not just worried about themselves. They’re worried about bringing the disease home to their families. It’s unconscionable that when you’re talking about policy – a significant change in immigration policy – but that’s not taken into consideration," Morgan said.

FILE - Crews construct a section of border wall in San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Douglas, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

From day one, the Biden Administration has made clear it wants a more humane immigration policy closely adhering to asylum laws that provide humanitarian relief. 

In an interview with CNN Wednesday, the new Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said, “Those who qualify under those laws are entitled to the relief that we extend. Those who do not will not be able to remain in our country.”

There is now growing evidence of dual crisis for the new secretary and for those on the front lines, which many experts warn is about to get a whole lot worse.

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