The Biden administration has announced a new policy that denies asylum to migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border without first applying online or seeking protection in a country they passed through. This move marks a significant shift in immigration policy as the U.S. prepares for the expiration of the Title 42 pandemic restriction.
Asylum seekers have been rushing to the border in anticipation of the end of the Title 42 restriction, which allowed for the quick expulsion of migrants to Mexico. U.S. officials have warned of challenging times ahead as the program tied to the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.
The new rule is part of a broader effort to crack down on illegal border crossings while creating new legal pathways. Families crossing the border will be subject to curfews and monitoring, and the head of the household will wear an ankle bracelet while their cases are being heard within 30 days.
However, the administration also plans to open 100 regional migration hubs across the Western Hemisphere and grant humanitarian parole to 30,000 people monthly from four countries. Increased deportation flights have also been arranged in anticipation of a substantial increase in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
While many migrants are trying to cross before the expiration of Title 42 and the implementation of the new rule, crossing illegally after the restrictions expire will result in a five-year ban and potential criminal prosecution.
At the border, migrants continue to arrive in significant numbers. In Matamoros, families waded through the Rio Grande, some carrying their belongings in plastic bags. In Ciudad Juarez, migrants arrived in small groups by train or bus, ready to surrender to U.S. authorities.
The announcement of the new rule has generated fear and anguish among migrants. The number of apprehensions by Border Patrol has reached a daily high, and over 27,000 people are currently in custody. Migrant shelters across Mexico are overwhelmed, and the situation is becoming increasingly challenging.
Human rights groups have voiced opposition to the new rule and plan to sue the government, stating that it will subject people to grave harm. They argue that the options of seeking protection in another country or obtaining an online appointment to seek asylum in the U.S. are problematic.
The administration also intends to establish regional hubs where migrants can apply to go to the U.S., Canada, or Spain. While two hubs in Guatemala and Colombia have been announced, the locations of the others are yet to be determined.
The situation at the U.S.-Mexico border remains complex, with migrants fleeing persecution and poverty in their home countries. Rumors and disinformation from smugglers further complicate the journey, making it challenging for migrants to navigate their options.