The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State announced unprecedented policies to expand entry to the United States while also claiming the border is closed ahead of the public health authority Title 42 ending on May 11.
The new policies, they said, will “further reduce unlawful migration across the Western Hemisphere, significantly expand lawful pathways for protection, and facilitate the safe, orderly, and humane processing of migrants.”
The Title 42 public health order is set to expire 11:59 PM EST on May 11. Implemented under former President Donald Trump, Title 42 allowed border agents to immediately expel foreign nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lifting the order “does not mean the border is open,” the statement says.
When Title 42 is lifted, it claims federal agents “will return to using Title 8 immigration authorities to expeditiously process and remove individuals who arrive at the U.S. border unlawfully.”
The announcement claims Title 8 authority violations “carry steep consequences for unlawful entry, including at least a five-year ban on reentry and potential criminal prosecution for repeated attempts to enter unlawfully,” even though over a million people with deportation orders haven’t been deported because of new policies instituted by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
While the statement claims “the border is not open,” the new policies are being implemented in coordination with the governments of Mexico, Canada, Spain, Colombia and Guatemala to expand entry to the United States “through a combination of expanded lawful pathways.”
One “legal pathway” includes expanding access to the CBPOne App. Foreign nationals from Central and Northern Mexico can schedule an appointment using the app to present themselves at a port of entry to be processed by Border Patrol with the expectation of being released into the U.S. “CBPOne will make additional appointments available, and the use of this tool will enable safe, orderly, and humane processing,” according to the policy.
Another includes a new family reunification parole process for citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia to enter the U.S, as well as for Cubans and Haitians. “Vetted individuals with already approved family-based petitions” will be released into the U.S. through this new system, which may conflict with an order given by a federal judge in Florida, who ruled against Mayorkas’ parole policy.
Another includes doubling the number of refugees allowed entry into the U.S. from the western hemisphere – “welcoming thousands of additional refugees per month” – through processing efficiencies and increasing resources and staffing to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
The U.S. will continue to accept up to 30,000 individuals per month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti, or 120,000 total, through its expanded parole policy.
To facilitate “access to lawful pathways” to foreign nationals to enter the U.S. bypassing immigration laws established by Congress, the federal government is opening regional processing centers for the first time in U.S. history outside of the United States.
The first processing centers will be opened in Colombia and Guatemala. Citizens of these countries can make an appointment on their phone to meet with an immigration specialist to help them be processed before they ever arrive to the U.S.
DHS is also dedicating $15 million to its Case Management Pilot Program to provide voluntary case management and other services to noncitizens to increase compliance with court dates and accelerate processing times to help them stay in the U.S.
The agencies also announced they were implementing enforcement measures, but since DHS has repeatedly been sued over the past three years for failing to enforce existing federal law, critics question the credibility of the claim.
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