McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Biden administration on Wednesday morning unveiled a lengthy plan on how it plans to deter and stop immigrants from crossing the southern border from Mexico once Title 42 expires.
Title 42 is the pandemic-era public health order that was put in place in March 2020 by the Trump administration that has restricted migrants from claiming asylum at the border in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus between countries. It expires at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday night.
Most of the U.S. plan relies on reverting back to the longstanding Title 8 law, which forbids entry into the United States by those who cross in between legal ports of entry, or who have not scheduled an asylum interview either at U.S. ports or at regional processing centers that will be opening up in other countries, the Department of Homeland Security and State Department said in a joint statement Wednesday.
“The transition back to Title 8 processing for all individuals encountered at the border will be effective immediately when the Title 42 order lifts,” the administration said.
But there are other ways that asylum-seekers may come legally to the United States and a lot of that involves applying for permission at U.S. ports of entry, or at the 100 regional processing centers that will be located in other countries in the western hemisphere, especially in Latin America.
New asylum scheduling system
The State Department soon plans to launch an online registration platform for asylum-seekers to make appointments at these regional centers, which is similar to the CBP One app the Biden administration for several months has required migrants use to schedule asylum appointments at U.S. ports of entry.
This will be in addition to the CBP One app that still will be used to schedule interviews at U.S. ports of entry, DHS Assistant Public Affairs Secretary Marsha Espinosa told Border Report on Wednesday.
However, the CBP One app has been fraught with troubles, mainly migrants complain they cannot log into the app to make group appointments; they also have complained of not being able to send photos of dark-skinned individuals.
But the biggest problem migrants have complained about is the inability to access the app from south of the border. Migrant advocates tell Border Report that the CBP One app only has a range of about 100 miles from the U.S. border, which has meant that migrants still must journey to the border area to make appointments.
Many of these problems were told to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas when he visited the South Texas border last Thursday. Sister Norma Pimentel, who runs Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and the region’s largest migrant center, said she sat down with Mayorkas at her facility and laid out many of the problems associated with the app.
Border Report has asked DHS officials when and if the CBP One app will be replaced and for more information on the transition. This story will be updated if information is received.
The administration says that under the new scheduling system “noncitizens will have additional time to request appointments.” And appointments will be prioritized to those waiting the longest.
They will also increase the number of asylum appointments available each day.
“This change will give noncitizens more time to navigate the appointment scheduling app, and therefore help ensure that noncitizens with limited connectivity meaningful opportunities to schedule appointments to present themselves at southwest border ports of entries,” the administration says.
Under its new plan, the Biden administration is stressing that migrants not travel to third countries to seek asylum, and it says that over 140 federal workers from DHS and the State Department, including over 800 personnel from the International Organization on Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, are being sent to these regional online processing centers.
The processing centers are described as “brick-and-mortar centers, which will serve to direct migrants to lawful pathways early in their journey and well before reaching the southwest border.”
Military arriving at the border
A deployment of 550 active U.S. military will be in place on Wednesday to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the Southwest border. They are part of 1,500 active military troops that are being deployed by the Biden administration.
They will join 2,500 National Guard troops already at the border, as well as local law enforcement.
The military who are being sent down are not to engage in law enforcement activities, but are to “provide administrative support at CBP facilities.”
This includes: data entry, warehousing support, and surveillance of CBP technology and detection activities “so that CBP agents and offices can get out in the field,” the administration said.
Expanding detention centers
Detention facilities will be expanded to meet capacity needs by CBP and Immigration Customs Enforcement officers.
An estimated 13,000 migrants are expected to cross the border daily beginning Friday.
Over 30,000 have already streamed into Brownsville, Texas, from Matamoros, Mexico, mostly Venezuelans.
Two new holding facilities were opened by CBP this week.
And Health and Human Services is increasing its capacity to hold unaccompanied children who cross the border without adults.
Quicker processing methods also are being used, like biometrics taken via cellphone apps, which agents are using in the field in Brownsville, in a popup processing facility that Mayorkas toured on Friday, which is called “Camp Monument.”
“Make no mistake: the border is not open,” Mayorkas told reporters on Friday.
The administration plans to ramp up a digital advertising campaign in Central, and South America and the Caribbean urging migrants not to travel to the U.S. border. And to make it clear that those who do not legally cross into the United States and are not granted asylum and are apprehended could be expeditiously expelled, and barred for five years from re-entry into the United States.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com