U.S. to open migration centers in Latin America, expedite deportations
To help process migrants that are seeking asylum, the U.S. will deploy asylum officers to new “regional processing centers” in Guatemala and Colombia to expand legal pathways for migrants
April 28, 2023 9:11am
Updated: April 28, 2023 9:11am
The United States plans to open immigration processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala and ramp up deportations for those who seek to enter the country irregularly in preparation for the expiration of Title 42.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the measures on Thursday, claiming that they were aimed at discouraging people from traveling to the border.
The pandemic-era immigration policy Title 42 was implemented in March 2020 to allow border patrol agents to quickly expel undocumented migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum. The policy is set to end on May 11 and has sparked fears that it will bring an unprecedented number of migrants to the border.
“The smugglers’ propaganda is false,” Mayorkas said. “Our border is not open, and will not be open after May 11.”
Mayorkas said that beginning on May 12 “expedited removal will begin” for those who cross the borders “without having first taken the legal pathway to entry.” The expulsions would apply to individuals that are traveling solo, as well as to families who are crossing the border, Mayorkas added. Those who are expelled will be banned from re-entering the country for five years.
“Those who arrive at our border and do not have a legal basis to stay will have made the journey, often having suffered horrific trauma and having paid their life savings to the smugglers, only to be quickly removed,” he said. “They will be removed most often in a matter of days.”
Instead, to help process migrants that are seeking asylum, the U.S. will deploy asylum officers to new “regional processing centers” in Guatemala and Colombia to expand legal pathways for migrants.
At the centers, which will be run by international organizations, agents will “interview applicants for the U.S. refugee admissions program and provide the swift processing of a greater number of individuals,” Mayorkas said. The centers aim to screen from 5,000 to 6,00 migrants every month.
“The whole model is to reach the people where they are, to cut the smugglers out, and to have them avoid the perilous journey,” Mayorkas said.
According to the Biden administration, this mix of deterrence and legal options for migrants will help reduce the number of migrants that attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border every month.