The United States is expanding a border control program that pairs migrant expulsions with a limited number of pre-approved entries per month, according to reports.
Under the program, the United States would take in up to 30,000 Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Venezuelans each month, while ramping up efforts to detain and expel migrants who show up at the border unauthorized.
The program will also couple a surge in border enforcement, an online reservation system to apply to enter the country at ports of entry, an expansion in the refugee system and a crackdown on smuggling networks.
Certain elements of the plan were first reported by Reuters.
President Biden remarked on the changes Thursday ahead of a trip to Mexico City and El Paso, Texas.
“Instead of [a] safe and orderly process at the border, we have a patchwork system that simply doesn’t work as it should. We don’t have enough asylum officers or personnel to determine whether people qualify for asylum,” he said in a speech from the White House’s Roosevelt Room.
“Today, my administration is taking several steps to stiffen enforcement for those who try to come without a legal right to stay, and to put in place a faster process — I emphasize a “faster process” — to decide a claim of asylum.”
Biden will be in Mexico City for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where he will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The meeting with López Obrador will be especially relevant to the administration’s border plans — the new program is essentially an expansion of an earlier program to manage Venezuelan migrants that required Mexican collaboration.
Under the new program, Mexico has agreed to take up to 30,000 nationals of the four countries who are expelled, an uptick from the 24,000 Venezuelans the country took in through a pilot program announced in October.
The program was criticized for giving preference to those with ties to the U.S. and who are able to secure financial sponsorship in the country before arriving.
“This program builds on the success of the Venezuela approval program that we launched in October of last year,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call Thursday.
“Coupling consistent consequences for those who cross our border with a streamlined legal pathway has proven to reduce irregular migration and facilitate safe, orderly migration – within weeks of launching the Venezuela process in October we saw a 90 percent drop in the number of Venezuelans arriving at our border. We also saw a dramatic drop in Venezuela’s traversing the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama.”
The program essentially gives pre-approval to a number of foreign nationals, who for the most part must enter the United States by air, while cracking down on land entrants, who are immediately expelled either to Mexico or their home countries.
The expulsions are carried out under Title 42 — the controversial border program that denies migrants their right to claim asylum on public health grounds related to the pandemic — but include countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua that have refused to take in Title 42 expellees.
Title 42, first unveiled under the Trump administration, has been steadily embraced by the Biden administration, which has expanded the policy even as it fights in court to preserve its right to rescind it.
Still, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the Biden policy differs from the “transit ban” weighed by his predecessor amid legal battles that could strike Title 42.
“This has actually no resemblance to the transit ban that was imposed in the Trump administration. Because we have built lawful pathways. We do have a way for asylum seekers to seek relief at the ports of entry, we will of course, have exceptions for humanitarian reasons,” he told reporters in a press conference Thursday.
While Haiti has taken in more than 25,000 of its citizens under Title 42, the Biden administration has come under intense criticism for denying asylum processing to nationals of a near-failed state.
Administration officials said the Department of Justice will continue to seek an end to Title 42, which is currently under review in the Supreme Court, but that they will use that authority to carry out expulsions meanwhile.
“We are using Title 42 to return migrants to Mexico and also to their home countries as those countries permit. Once Title 42 is lifted — and we continue to believe that it should be and we continue to press the courts to allow Title 42 to be lifted — we will be operating under our traditional Title 8 authorities,” said a senior administration official.
The use of Title 42 in part responds to the changing migration patterns throughout the hemisphere that U.S. officials have been struggling to respond to.
“Today’s announcement really includes a comprehensive set of measures that are designed to respond to what is really a new and unique migration pattern that we are seeing throughout our hemisphere and at our border,” said a senior administration official.
The rise in migrants from the four countries in the program has piled on to steady migration from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating a historically unique border management crisis for the administration.
While the program will allow the administration to quickly process a number of migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela, its size still pales in comparison to the total number of migrants arriving from those countries.
In November, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported encounters with more than 142,000 foreign nationals from countries other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at the southwest border.
A majority of those migrants were from the countries covered in the new program.
Conditions are so dire in those countries that migrants are attempting to reach the United States through multiple avenues — over the weekend, more than 500 Cuban migrants reached the Florida Keys.
While officials said the new program doesn’t amount to a so-called transit ban, migrants will have to apply from their current location to be eligible.
That could bar would-be asylum seekers who have not left their countries if they are forced to flee to a neighboring country before applying for asylum in the United States.
3 thoughts on “US planning to accept up to 30,000 migrants monthly under expanded humanitarian program”
“The petty thief is imprisoned, but the big thief becomes a feudal lord.”
— Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu
“But there are some things, child, that you should steal, that you must steal, if you have enough love and courage in your heart. You must snatch freedom from the hands of the tyrant. You must spirit away innocent lives before they are destroyed. You must hide secret and sacred places.”
— Lian Tanner, Museum of Thieves
“We don’t have enough asylum officers or personnel to determine whether people qualify for asylum,” he said in a speech from the White House’s Roosevelt Room.“
Asylum officers???? No one’s seeking asylum at the border. They’re invading us, grandpa Joe!!!
We need the border patrol officers to enforce the border so people don’t cross unauthorized, you demented son of a bitch!!
My god people, when are we going to remove this treasonous bastard from office??
“The United States is expanding a border control program that pairs migrant expulsions with a limited number of pre-approved entries per month, according to reports.”
Pre-approved??? These are illegal immigrants NOT credit card applicants!!!!