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According to a Homeland Security official, daily migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border dropped by more that half in January, compared to last month. This is due to an increase in a Trump-era Covid restriction, and newly launched programs to legal migrate to the US.

Last month, border authorities wrestled with a spike in border encounters, averaging around 7,000 daily, ahead of the anticipated end of Title 42, a public health authority that’s been in place since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court placed a temporary stop to Title 42’s expiration, but left it in place for now. However, the migrant influx has highlighted the difficulties facing the Biden Administration amid mass migration in Western Hemisphere. While daily arrests have dropped, it’s unclear how long the trend will hold as people continue to face poor conditions in their home countries.

Joe Biden has been confronted with shifting migration patterns over the course of his presidency. This has put pressure on both federal and local resources. The issue in turn has increasingly become a political vulnerability for the administration – drawing fierce criticism from Republicans and Democrats – and been a key point of discussion with nations to the south, primarily Mexico.

Biden met with Mexican President Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the North American Leaders’ Summit earlier this month, where migration was a key topic of discussion.

The Biden administration extended a humanitarian parole program to allow up to 30,000 migrants each month to be accepted from Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua just days before the Mexican visit. These nationalities can now enter the US legally, rather than crossing the border. The administration also made those nationalities eligible for Title 42, meaning they can now be turned away by authorities if they don’t apply for the program.

Officials cite the expansion of Title 42 and the parole program as reasons for this month’s drop in daily encounters.

Biden spoke of a possible drop in crossings in Mexico while he was there, saying: “This is going to reduce the number of people legally trying to cross — illegally trying to cross the border.”

“We’re trying to make it easier for people to get here, opening up the capacity to get here, but not have them go through that godawful process,” He also spoke of the dangerous journey that north migrants often make.

Advocates for immigrant rights have raised concerns about this program. They claim that it will only benefit those who are connected to the US, since a sponsor would be needed, and that Title 42 can allow more people to be turned away.