Biden Admin ‘Building Lawful Pathways’ for Immigrants After Title 42 Ends: Mayorkas

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As the end of Title 42 nears, the Biden administration is encouraging immigrants to take up more legal pathways to enter the country, or face new and expedited deportation processes.

Such deportation processes are set to come with the implementation of a new rule the administration is set to finalize soon. The rule would deny asylum to many immigrants who are caught crossing the southern border illegally.

The new regulation “provides that individuals who do not access our lawful pathways will be presumed ineligible for asylum and will have a higher burden of proof, to overcome that assumption of ineligibility,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press conference on Friday.

The move is part of the Biden administration’s plan to curb an anticipated rise in illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border starting May 11, when Title 42 will be lifted. The date also marks the end of the U.S. COVID-19 public health emergency.

Title 42, part of the Public Health Service Act of 1944, was implemented under the Trump administration in March 2020. It allows for blocking asylum claims and swift expulsion of most unauthorized border crossers under the grounds of keeping contagious diseases out of the United States.

Under Title 42, border agents were able to rapidly send back many illegal immigrants to Mexico, which helped stem the spread of COVID-19 in crowded detention settings.

When Title 42 is lifted, all illegal immigrants will be processed under the Title 8 immigration law.

From Title 42 to Title 8

“In a post-Title 42 environment, we will be using our expedited removal authorities under Title 8 of the United States Code. That allows us to remove individuals very quickly,” Mayorkas said on Friday.

The U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a fact sheet last week the country will double or triple the number of deportation flights to some countries and aim to process migrants crossing the border illegally “in a matter of days.”

Title 8 is a federal law that allows expulsions if illegal immigrants don’t qualify for asylum. The process to remove an illegal immigrant under Title 8 currently takes longer compared to Title 42.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), a Democrat, recently told The Epoch Times that under Title 42, illegal immigrants “can come right back” to the United States, because “there are no repercussions” after they are expelled.

But “Under Title 8, there are some teeth, which means if someone is deported, there will be a five-year, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year ban or more, which means they cannot come back into the country,” he said.

Separately, the Mexican government will step up border security in southern Mexico as part of an agreement reached this week, Mayorkas said. Mexico’s Defense Ministry said it did not have information on the matter.

Also ahead of Title 42’s end, the Biden administration is expanding access to CBP One, an app that allows migrants to schedule an appointment to approach a border port of entry. Beginning May 12, roughly 1,000 appointments will be available each day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

‘Building Lawful Pathways’

The administration is “building lawful pathways” to “provide a safe and orderly way for individuals who qualify for relief under U.S. law to reach the United States safely,” said Mayorkas.

“We are building on the success of our parole processes that we announced on Jan. 5 for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. We saw a 95 percent drop in the number of encounters of those individuals at our southern border because we built lawful pathways for them to access,” he said. “That is the model we are building upon.”

Mayorkas’s remarks refer to the Biden administration’s recent border changes, which include a parole program to focus on Venezuelans that was begun in October 2022. The program allows up to 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the United States under parole authority, which grants them entry and work authorization for a year but isn’t a legal status. A Venezuelan national must meet certain criteria to be eligible, including having a sponsor in the United States to provide “financial and other support.”

In early January, the administration expanded the parole program to nationals of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti, which means they can apply for parole, and if they meet eligibility criteria, they can receive a two-year permit to work in the United States.

Regional Processing Centers

The Biden administration will be encouraging migrants to apply for refugee resettlement or other forms of entry at two new processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia without having to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The processing centers will “enable individuals to access lawful pathways from those regional processing centers—whether they qualify for refugee processing, whether they qualify for our existing and expanding family reunification programs, whether they present acute vulnerabilities that make qualify them for humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis,” Mayorkas said Friday.

“We are reaching the people where they are. It is not only our security obligation, it is our humanitarian responsibility to cut the smugglers out, and that is indeed what we are doing.”

The centers, with the support of the United Nations, aim to screen 5,000 to 6,000 migrants each month as the United States has pledged to accept more refugees from within the Western Hemisphere. Canada and Spain have also said they would accept migrants through the centers, U.S. officials said.

The centers will also process family reunification applications, a program already available to Cubans and Haitians that will now be expanded to nationals of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, U.S. officials said. The program allows certain migrants with U.S. relatives to enter and work legally while they await their U.S. visas.

Mayorkas Warns Migrants Planning to Cross Illegally

Migrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border have risen in recent weeks, which Mayorkas attributed to a spike in illegal immigrants from Venezuela.

On Friday, Mayorkas issued a warning directed at migrants who plan to cross the southern border illegally, amid the perception among them that they will be allowed in upon the end of Title 42.

“We are building lawful pathways and we are delivering consequences for those who do not use those meaningfully accessible pathways. The message is very clear. We are coming with the relief that our laws provide to the individuals in need,” he said, adding, “The border is not open, it has not been open, and it will not be open, subsequent to May 11.”

“And the smugglers who exploit vulnerable migrants are spreading misinformation. They are spreading false information, lies, in a way to lure vulnerable people to the southern border, and those individuals will only be returned.

“To the individuals themselves, who are thinking of migrating: Do not believe the smugglers, please access the official government publications, please access the official government information on the DHS website for accurate information, because you are being deceived and you are risking your lives and your life savings only to meet a consequence that you do not expect at our southern border.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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