Biden administration to set up migrant processing centers in Latin America to ease border pressure

Canada and Spain have agreed to accept referrals from processing centers, officials said.

News of the centers comes just two weeks before the repeal of Title 42, a seismic shift in border policy. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will announce the details at a joint press conference in the state Thursday morning. Dept. The White House is releasing a fact sheet on regional processing centers and other initiatives in preparation for the May 11 expiration of Title 42, the Trump-era border policy, for public health reasons.

Processing centers are just one part of the administration’s multifaceted response as the White House tries to strike a balance by creating additional legislative pathways. Officials announced the expansion of the Family Reunification Parole Program to include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia.

“[It’s] A significant project is indeed ambitious and on a scale that has never been done before,” a senior executive told reporters. “However, we can do much more with the cooperation of Congress. They’ve really tied our hands, so we’re really appealing to Congress to work with us.

The White House has been aggressively planning to end Title 42 since before the New Year, weighing a patchwork of policy solutions. May, already a historically busy month for migration, is expected to bring one of the biggest policy challenges yet for the White House. The timing falls at a challenging political moment for President Joe Biden, who has launched his 2024 re-election campaign.

Expanding legal pathways and speeding up processing would be combined with deterrence measures — an effort officials see as a success story in reducing border numbers in an effort to create a humanitarian parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans. The program for these groups will continue, officials said, including deporting those trying to enter the U.S. illegally to Mexico.

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Instead of Title 42, officials plan to rely on a new rule that would prevent some immigrants from applying for asylum in the United States if they cross the border illegally or fail to first apply for safe harbor in another country. The administration is working to finalize and implement the rule — a version of the Trump-era policy known as the “traffic ban” — before May 11.

Officials said Thursday that the administration will expand expedited removal processes under Title 8, which allows the government to remove from the country anyone who cannot establish a legal basis, such as an approved asylum claim.

“The transition from Title 42 to Title 8 does not mean the border is open,” a senior administration official said Thursday. “Returning to the regular order under Title 8 means that we could once again impose significant consequences on those who fail to use the many existing legal avenues we announced today.”

The Biden administration has 24,000 agents and officers at the border and is hiring an additional 300 Border Patrol agents this year. They are also preparing custom and border security facilities to include interview spaces for asylum officers, immigration judges and counselors.

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