The United States has taken new steps to reduce the influx of immigrants when the Title 42 border rule expires in May

Washington – The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it would set up processing centers for migrants in Latin America, increase deportations and expand legal migration routes in an effort to reduce the number of migrants illegally crossing the US-Mexico border.

The measures are part of the administration’s effort to reduce and slow migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, where officials are preparing to end a pandemic-era policy. Known as Title 42 It has allowed 2.7 million migrants to be quickly deported without processing their asylum claims since March 2020.

Title 42 expires on May 11 with the expiration of the national COVID-19 public health emergency. Officials have made internal projections that migrant arrivals at the southern border could rise by 10,000 to 13,000 a day next month.

In fact, prior to the policy change, illegal border crossings had already increased, particularly in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, a senior U.S. official told CBS News. On Tuesday alone, Border Patrol agents registered 7,500 migrants, 40% more than the daily average for March, the official said.

The brick-and-mortar processing centers announced Thursday will serve as regional hubs to screen immigrants and determine whether they qualify for traditional refugee resettlement, family visa programs, a sponsorship initiative for certain countries and various options for temporary entry into the United States. Work visas.

Starting in Colombia and Guatemala, these hubs are located at major chokepoints in Latin America, where many migrants make their way to the US southern border. Senior administration officials said the US is “in consultation” with other countries to expand the number of processing centers.

FILE — Men carry children on their shoulders as they leave on foot with other migrants heading north on June 6, 2022 in Tapachula, Mexico.

Daniel Diaz/Image Alliance via Getty Images

Immigrants processed at regional centers are screened for eligibility to stay in the host country or resettle in Canada or Spain, who have agreed to take referrals from the centers, according to senior U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. Schedule a conference call with the press. CBS News first reported the migrant centers were established Wednesday.

During a joint press conference with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas said regional processing centers are expected to serve 5,000 to 6,000 migrants each month.

“We’re working with our regional partners. We’re going after smugglers. We’re mobilizing resources to the border. But we can’t do everything we need to do until Congress provides the necessary resources and reforms,” ​​Mayorkas said.

The administration announced Thursday that it will expand a family reunification program that allows Haitians and Cubans to come to the United States after approving immigrant visa requests from family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

That program would be expanded to include Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, allowing citizens of those countries to come to the United States before their immigrant visas become available. are approved.

To prevent illegal crossings after the end of Title 42, the Biden administration is working to finalize a provision that would disqualify immigrants from asylum if they enter the country illegally after failing to obtain humanitarian protection en route to the United States.

Administration officials have argued that the policy, similar to a Trump administration rule, would discourage illegal crossings and encourage immigrants to apply for two initiatives unveiled in January: a sponsorship program that would allow up to 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans to fly. A telephone application that asylum seekers in the United States and Mexico can use to request entry at ports of entry at the southern border each month.

In a statement Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security said it could double or triple the number of weekly deportation flights to some countries. A senior administration official said the U.S. plans a “significant” expansion of expedited deportations under a process known as expedited removal to impose “severe consequences” on those who enter the U.S. without permission.

Once Title 42 is lifted, the U.S. wants to continue deporting Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans illegally crossing the southern border to Mexico, the official said. Deportations would be carried out under the Immigration Act instead of Title 42, and deportees would be barred from the United States for five years. If they try to cross the border after being deported, they will face criminal charges, the official added.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration launched an effort to speed up initial asylum screenings for immigrants when they are processed under regular immigration laws instead of Title 42. Immigrants enrolled in the program were interviewed by telephone by US asylum officials. A shift from the long-standing practice of waiting for Border Patrol agents to be placed in long-term facilities.

Earlier this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it would reassign nearly 480 employees to help the 1,000-member asylum officer corps conduct these “credible fear” interviews, which determine whether immigrants are deported or allowed to seek asylum. Announcement obtained by CBS News.

The measures announced Thursday addressed concerns about a sharp increase in maritime migration in the Caribbean Sea and Florida Straits over the past year. The administration said it would disqualify Cuban and Haitian immigrants from the sponsorship program it launched earlier this year if they are intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.

During a briefing with reporters, a senior U.S. official noted that the administration is “fully aware that many of these actions are vulnerable to litigation,” adding that “a lasting solution” can only come from Congress. Republican-led states are currently asking a federal judge to block the sponsorship program, arguing that the administration lacks the authority to admit 30,000 immigrants each month outside the visa system.

The processing centers are part of a broader Biden administration campaign to enlist the help of countries in the Western Hemisphere to manage unauthorized migration — a pledge 20 countries made in the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Security during the June 2022 Summit of the Americas. .

Earlier this month, the governments of the United States, Colombia and Panama announced two months of action. It announced that it would stop migrant smuggling at the Darien Gap-Mexico border.

As part of planning for the end of Title 42, U.S. officials have considered reinstating the practice of detaining some immigrant families in detention centers, which the Biden administration ended in 2021.

Asked if the practice would be revived, the Homeland Security Secretary Alexander Mayorkas He told CBS News during an interview last week that “no decision” had been made.

“The administration has no plans to detain families,” Mayorkas said during Thursday’s press conference.

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