Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Thursday plans to mitigate an expected influx of migrants attempting to come to the U.S. when Title 42, a major Trump-era public health policy used to expel certain migrants, ends.
Blinken and Mayorkas jointly detailed the plans, which include processing for migrants south of the border to receive approval for entry, expanded use of legal pathways for migrants to cross the southern border and harsher penalties for those trying to come to the U.S. illegally. Title 42 is set to end May 11, and Mayorkas said he expects a wave of migrants to attempt to cross the southern border. (RELATED: Massive Migrant Caravan Forms In Mexico To Protest Immigration Policies)
“This is a hemispheric challenge that demands hemispheric solutions,” Mayorkas said. The plans also include expanding access to humanitarian parole for family members from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia seeking to reunify, and will allow twice as many refugees from the Western Hemisphere to come to the U.S. The family reunification parole program already exists for Cubans and Haitians.
“Migration is the definition of a challenge that no country can solve alone. The magnitude, the range of drivers, the push and pull factors all demand that we work together,” Blinken said. Migrants can also go to processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala to seek legal pathways to the U.S.
“We are building lawful pathways for people to come to the United States without resorting to the smugglers. At the same time, we are imposing consequences on those who do not use those pathways,” Mayorkas said.
U.S. border authorities will largely rely on “expedited removal” through Title 8, which carries harsher penalties than Title 42, to process migrants, Mayorkas said. Those who cross illegally will be removed “in a matter of days,” and will face a five-year ban from entry.
“We have been preparing for the transition for more than a year and a half. Notwithstanding those preparations, we do expect that encounters at our southern border will increase as smugglers are seeking to take advantage of this change and already are hard at work spreading disinformation that the border will be open after that,” Mayorkas said.
“High encounters will place a strain on our entire system, including our dedicated, growing workforce and our communities. The smugglers’ propaganda is false. Let me be clear, our border is not open and will not be open after May 11,” Mayorkas said, later adding that the first few weeks will be difficult.
Mayorkas also asked Congress for more funding, and requested that existing funds be diverted to aiding the department in addressing the migration surge.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recorded a record surge in migration at the southern border in recent years. Between October 2021 and March 2022, Border Patrol agents recorded more than 3 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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