U.S. Takes New Steps to Reduce Migrant Arrivals When Title 42 Border Rule Ends in May
Camilo Montoya-Galvez and Margaret Brennan, CBS News, April 27, 2023
The Biden administration on Thursday announced it will set up migrant processing centers in Latin America, increase deportations and expand legal migration pathways in a bid to reduce the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully.
The moves are part of the administration’s effort to reduce and slow migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, where officials are preparing to discontinue a pandemic-era policy known as Title 42 that has allowed them to swiftly expel migrants over 2.7 million times since March 2020 without processing their asylum claims.
Title 42 is set to end on May 11 with the expiration of the national COVID-19 public health emergency. Officials have made internal projections that migrant arrivals to the southern border could spike to between 10,000 and 13,000 per day next month.
In fact, unlawful border crossings have already increased in the lead-up to the policy change, especially in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, a senior U.S. official told CBS News. On Tuesday alone, Border Patrol recorded 7,500 apprehensions of migrants, a more than 40% increase from March’s daily average, the official said.
The brick-and-mortar processing centers announced Thursday will serve as regional hubs to screen migrants and determine whether they qualify for different options to enter the U.S. legally, including through traditional refugee resettlement, family visa programs, a sponsorship initiative for certain countries and temporary work visas.
The centers would be located in key choke-points in Latin America that many migrants transit through en route to the U.S. southern border, starting with Colombia and Guatemala. Senior administration officials said the U.S. is “in discussions” with other countries to expand the number of processing centers.
Migrants processed at the regional hubs will also be vetted for eligibility to remain in the hosting country or to be resettled in Canada or Spain, which have agreed to take referrals from the centers, according to the senior U.S. officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan during a briefing with reporters. CBS News first reported the establishment of the migrant centers on Wednesday.
During a joint press conference with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the regional processing hubs are expected to serve between 5,000 and 6,000 migrants each month.
The administration also announced on Thursday that it would expand a family reunification program that currently allows Haitians and Cubans to come to the U.S. once they have approved immigrant visa requests from family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
That program will be expanded to Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, allowing citizens of those countries to come to the U.S. under the humanitarian parole authority before their immigrant visas become available if their U.S.-based relatives’ requests to sponsor them for a visa have been approved.
To deter unlawful crossings after Title 42’s end, the Biden administration has been working to finalize a rule that would disqualify migrants from asylum if they enter the country illegally after failing to seek humanitarian protection in a third country they transited through on their way to the U.S.
Administration officials have argued the policy, which resembles a Trump administration rule, will discourage illegal crossings, and encourage migrants to apply for two initiatives it unveiled in January: a sponsorship program that allows up to 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans to fly to the U.S. each month, and a phone app that asylum-seekers in Mexico can use to request entry at ports of entry along the southern border.