Politics

Biden admin to expand migrant entries via CBP One app to nearly 40K a month

The Biden administration is expanding the number of migrants it is allowing into the U.S. via the controversial CBP One app to nearly 40,000 a month as officials continue to tackle an ongoing crisis at the border, even as numbers have dropped post-Title 42.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it is increasing the number of appointments that migrants can make to be admitted at ports of entry to 1,250 a day, meaning that there will be close to 40,000 a month allowed in each month. It had previously been allowing 1,000 appointments a day.

The Biden administration has hailed the use of the app, which it expanded in January to allow migrants near the U.S.-Mexico to schedule appointments at the border, as a key part of its strategy to tackle illegal crossings by expanding lawful pathways and opportunities to access them.

The appointments at the border are in addition to 30,000 migrants who are transported into the U.S. a month via a separate humanitarian parole program for eligible nationals from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela. The administration has also been expanding additional pathways, including a dramatic increase in refugee admissions, and the establishment of migrant processing centers to link migrants to lawful refugee and employment pathways.

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“The process cuts out smugglers while also providing a safe, orderly, and humane process for noncitizens to access ports of entry instead of attempting to enter the United States unlawfully,” a spokesperson said. “We are continuing to enforce consequences for migrants who cross unlawfully, and those who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed.”

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The app is combined with the administration’s “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule, which restricts migrants from claiming asylum if they have entered illegally and failed to claim asylum in a country through which they have previously traveled. The rule requires migrants to use the app, although it offers an exception if it was not possible to access the app due to “extenuating circumstances, significant technical failure, or other applicable exception.”

So far, the administration has been able to claim some success. With the end of the Title 42 public health order — which allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border due to COVID-19 — it was feared there would be a spike in migrant encounters. However, numbers have dropped from the historic highs seen before the order ended by as much as 70%.

However, both the app and the asylum rule have faced controversy and legal challenges from both the left and the right. Just this week, 18 Republican-led states challenged the asylum rule, calling the rule a “smoke screen” to allow otherwise illegal immigrants into the U.S. under a veil of legality.

The lawsuit argues that the rule fails to target the causes of the migrant crisis, and instead “tries to define the problem away by re-characterizing what would be illegal crossings as ‘lawful pathways.’”

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“The Defendants claim that the Circumvention Rule will deter illegal border crossings, decrease the number of new unlawful aliens in the United States, and reduce reliance on human smuggling networks. The truth, however, is that the Circumvention Rule is some combination of a half measure and a smoke screen,” the states argue in the lawsuit. “It is riddled with exceptions, and it is part of the Biden Administration’s broader effort to obfuscate the true situation at the Southwest Border.”

That lawsuit followed a lawsuit filed by Texas a week before, which focused in on the use of the CBP One app. That complaint claims the administration is encouraging migrants to cross the border “without establishing that they meet some exception from removal or have a legal basis to remain in the country.” 

Meanwhile, the app and the rule have also run afoul of left-wing activists who have argued that limiting asylum claims to those who have used the app illegally throttles the number of people allowed to make an asylum claim — which they argue is a right for any foreign national who seeks to make one. They have also pointed to technical difficulties which initially saw migrants unable to use the app.

A lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups argue that the new rule unlawfully restricts a right to claim asylum no matter how the migrant enters the U.S., and forces the use of an app that the lawsuit argues has been proven to be flawed and restrictive.

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