SAN DIEGO — The Biden administration on Thursday announced it will set up migrant processing centers in Latin America.
The decision comes ahead of the expiration of Title 42, a COVID-era order that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border. The move is part of an effort to reduce and slow migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, but migrants’ advocates say the move blocks the rights of those seeking asylum.
The processing centers will let migrants apply to come to the U.S. legally as part of an effort to lower illegal migration across the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It’s an approach, focused on making migration, more safe, orderly, and humane in on advancing the interest of the American people,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the announcement from the White House on Sunday.
“Working with our neighbors in the region we can and will reduce the number of migrants on our border,” said Mayorkasas.
The move comes as Title 42 is set to end May 11. The processing centers will serve as regional hubs to screen migrants — and determine whether they qualify for different options to enter the U.S. legally.
“We are building lawful pathways for people coming to the United States without resorting to the smugglers,” said Mayorkas.
The Biden administration is working to finalize a rule that would disqualify migrants from asylum if they enter the country illegally.
But migrant advocate Pedro Rios says it’s just an excuse.
“The talking point of going after smugglers has been one that border patrol has been using for many years,” said Rios. “But it’s a way to deflect that the U.S government has in respecting the right to asylum.”
He says the new rule blocks the rights of those seeking asylum.
“It’s unfortunate that those that are in a vulnerable situation are being victimized again because the U.S continues to not recognize to the full extent that asylum seekers would have when they are fleeing harm and trying to improve their lives in this country,” said Rios.
Border crossings in the San Diego sector are on the rise, up by over 30% from last April.
Thursday, officials made internal projections that migrant arrivals to the southern border could spike to between 10,000 and 13,000 per day next month.
White House officials say the processing centers will be operated by international organizations partnering with the U.S.
The first ones are set to open in Guatemala and Colombia in the coming weeks.