Central America. The U.S. government will implement a “comprehensive plan” for immigration enforcement starting May 11, when Title 42 is expected to end, senior Biden administration officials announced Thursday.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration anticipates that the flow of migrants to the southwest border could increase dramatically with the end of Title 42, under the premise that it would be “easier” to enter the country. These measures aim to reduce this flow of people
Senior U.S. government officials told reporters Thursday that one of the significant new measures will be the establishment of processing centers in the region.
These processing centers will initially open in Colombia and Guatemala, however, eventual coordination with other countries to establish additional facilities is anticipated. Inside these centers, migrants will have an initial evaluation with specialists to be referred to refugee resettlement programs and other legal routes of arrival in the United States such as humanitarian parole or family reunification. In addition, they will have the option to receive information about asylum programs in the region.
“The U.S. will use regional processing centers to expedite the pre-screening of individuals seeking legal avenues. These new centers will be implemented by partners from international organizations. People will speak to specialists, be screened and, if eligible, be referred for refugee resettlement or other legal avenues,” the officials said.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro confirmed following the announcement Thursday that processing centers in Colombia will be set up in various locations across the country. “We have agreed with the United States centers and special offices to process processes of family reunification and emigration of Colombians to the United States in an orderly and legal manner,” the president said on his Twitter account.
Spain and Canada expressed interest in the U.S. government accepting referrals from regional processing centers so that migrants can also access their refugee programs, U.S. officials told reporters.
“The idea is that people don’t continue their journey overland. The idea of regional processing centers is to give people a legal, safe and regular way to enter the United States. So (once they apply from there) they will be able to fly (to the country) through those centers,” the officials said.
These centers will not be located in U.S. embassies or consulates, but in existing centers of international partners. “Later we will be able to establish separate centers. We are still working on the exact numbers,” it added.
Migrants will be able to access these centers through appointments that will be scheduled virtually. “We are going to reduce the need for irregular movements in the hemisphere,” one of the officials said.
The administration’s expectation, it was announced, will be to “drastically” increase the number of refugees admitted to the US.
Once Title 42 is finalized, immigration authorities will implement Title 8, the measure that in the past has regulated immigration in the US and that carries additional consequences for illegal migration.
The White House had advanced that it would be “more difficult” to enter the US illegally under Title 8, as the consequences include a re-entry ban of at least five years, as well as possible criminal prosecutions for repeated attempts to cross irregularly.
The U.S. will also expand the use of the CBP One app for migrants in central and northern Mexico to access the appointment schedule and schedule an interview with an immigration official. Currently, the platform is open for migrants at the border waiting to be processed.
Humanitarian parole and removal to Mexico will continue
The humanitarian parole program, which establishes a two-year permit for Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Cubans, will continue once Title 42 ends, officials announced. The limit of approved applications per month would remain at 30,000.
The continuation of the humanitarian parole will include the intention of the United States to return to Mexico people who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the country.
“It is our intention to continue with the return of nationals of those four countries who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States,” the official said.
DHS will also make ineligible for humanitarian parole those migrants who try to enter US territory through the maritime environment. This would specifically cover Cubans and Haitians embarking from their islands in boats to reach the United States.
The Biden administration estimates that since the implementation of this program, the number of illegal entries of these four nationalities has decreased by 95 percent.
“The end of Title 42 does not mean the border is open,” he said.
Rule that conditions asylum will be implemented
One of the officials anticipated that they are finalizing for implementation the rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) that conditions asylum eligibility for migrants.
This measure states that people who circumvent established pathways available for legal immigration, such as humanitarian parole, will be ineligible for asylum.
“It will create a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility for individuals who do not take advantage of the dramatically expanded legal avenues we have made available and who also do not schedule an interview by CBP One,” he said.
Those who do not apply for asylum in transit countries will also be ineligible.
In preparation for the coming weeks, CBP facilities are being integrated with phone booths and private spaces to facilitate asylum interviews. One of the additional measures includes access to legal help for migrants detained in such facilities. This is part of the pilot test implemented by the authorities to expeditiously process people.
The measures announced will include regional cooperation with the governments of Colombia and Panama, such as the one announced on April 11, to “expand” counternarcotic efforts and security cooperation in the Darien jungle. This includes a coordinated campaign to tackle the criminal movement.