The Department of Homeland Security will extend to more nationalities programs modeled after those put in place to admit Ukrainians and Venezuelans under certain conditions, asserting that this measure is one of the “concrete steps” to enhance border security while — and after — the fate of the Title 42 migrant expulsion public health order is in legal limbo.
Customs and Border Protection will also expand the use of the CBP One app, which allows travelers and stakeholders to access CBP mobile applications and services, to let migrants approaching the southwest border make an appointment at a point of entry.
“Title 42 or not, the border is not open,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press conference today. “We will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws in a safe, orderly, and humane manner.”
On Dec. 27, the Supreme Court ordered that the Title 42 policy remain in place while legal challenges unfold to DHS implementation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to lift the order. Mayorkas said the department will comply with court orders on Title 42 and use the time to enhance expedited removal processes under Title 8 authorities.
The announcement comes ahead of a scheduled visit to the border on Sunday by President Biden. “I’m very much looking forward to joining the president in El Paso this weekend,” Mayorkas said.
Today the White House said it is “surging additional resources to the border and the region, scaling up its anti-smuggling operations, and expanding coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organizations” in close coordination with Mexico and other Western Hemisphere governments.
“Effective immediately, individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal to their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on re-entry,” the administration said.
DHS said it is establishing new parole and work authorization processes for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans — “with significant consequences for those who fail to use those pathways” — that will be modeled on Uniting for Ukraine, which allows Ukrainians with a financial supporter in the United States temporary stay, and the recent program enacted for Venezuelans, which similarly allows migrants who meet financial backing and other criteria to remain in the U.S. for up to two years.
“We saw a dramatic drop — a 90 percent drop — in the number of Venezuelans at our southwest border,” Mayorkas said of the program’s results, later adding that the expansion is based on a “tremendous thirst” for these programs.
Up to 30,000 people per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua will be admitted under the program. Meanwhile, Mexico will accept returns of 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries if they don’t go through the new process. The U.S. has been working “very closely” with Mexico and nonprofits to address migrants’ needs including increased shelter capacity, the secretary said.
From today forward, illegally crossing the borders of Panama, Mexico, or the United States disqualifies a migrant from being able to take advantage of the new parole process.
Mayorkas said the “safe, orderly path” will make migrants “less likely to risk their lives … only to arrive at our southwest border and face the consequences of illegal entry.”
“Eligible individuals should stay where they are and apply for these processes there,” he said.
The agency will use the CBP One app to allow noncitizens to schedule appointments to present themselves to agents at ports of entry — first, for those seeking an exception from the Title 42 public health order and, post-Title 42, “to help ensure safe and orderly processing at ports of entry.”
“The app is designed to discourage individuals from congregating near the border and creating unsafe conditions,” Mayorkas said.
DHS also said it is “increasing and enhancing the use of expedited removal under Title 8 authorities for those who cannot be processed under the Title 42 public health order,” including “surging personnel and resources and enrolling individuals under the asylum processing interim final rule published in March 2022.”
DHS and the Department of Justice intend to “shortly” issue a proposed rule open to public comment that would “incentivize the use of the new and existing lawful processes available in the Unites States and partner nations, and place certain conditions on asylum eligibility for those who fail to do so.”
Mayorkas said “more information will be available in the coming weeks” on the rule.
“Those who fail to use lawful processes will face consequences,” he told reporters, adding that “we are a nation of immigrants and we are a nation of laws.”
At the end of the press conference, Mayorkas was asked about the expressed intention of some House Republicans to try to impeach him during the new Congress.
“I’ve got a tremendous amount of work do … and I will continue to do that work,” Mayorkas replied.