The Biden administration said that 10 migrants entered the U.S. while more than 600 others have received approval under the new parole program announced by officials earlier this month. Under the program, approximately 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua can apply for safety every month if they are able to obtain a U.S. sponsor. CBS News reports that thousands of American sponsors have applied under the program, which mirrors the private sponsorship programs launched for Venezuelan and Ukrainian migrants last year.
The Biden administration’s latest initiative also went into effect very quickly, with migrants entering just five days after applications were first accepted, CBS News said.
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“Illegal border crossings have dropped sharply since the measures were announced, a senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told CBS News, requesting anonymity to describe internal data,” the report said. “U.S. border agents are averaging 4,000 daily migrant apprehensions, down from a 7,000 daily average in November, the official said.” Officials noted a similar drop following implementation of the parole program for Venezuelans last year. But the Biden administration has faced swift rebuke from within the Democratic Party, immigrant rights advocates, and even the United Nations refugee agency for coupling the parole program with harsh restrictionist measures.
One proposal mirrors the previous administration’s so-called transit ban, a policy thrown out by a judge in 2020. CBS News previously reported that angry Democratic lawmakers—in particular members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus—“voiced frustration” over the planned changes during a face-to-face meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The administration is still under court order to continue enforcing the debunked Title 42 policy, but it has also expanded the policy beyond what was required, causing further outrage. Another change by the Biden administration is the announcement of an app-based system that allows asylum-seekers to request an appointment with U.S. border officials at a port of entry and seek exemption from Title 42 due to certain humanitarian reasons, such as age or disability.
“The CBP One app is an innovative solution we are using to facilitate the safe and orderly arrival of noncitizens who believe they meet certain vulnerability criteria and are requesting a humanitarian exception to the CDC’s Title 42 Order,” Mayorkas said. “When Title 42 eventually lifts, this new feature will join one of the many tools and processes this administration is providing for individuals to seek protection in a safe, orderly, and humane manner and to strengthen the security of our borders.”
But recent, monstrous storms knocked out power at one Mexican shelter, leaving migrants “unable to charge their cellphones—a big deal now that the Biden admin is requiring that migrants use the CBP One app to seek admission at ports of entry,” American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick noted. In announcing expanded usage of CBP One last week, officials said that appointments would begin this week. But there have also been reports that some migrants haven’t been able to access the system, continuing to leave them stranded in Mexico.
“Human rights activists have also voiced concerns that the sponsorship and port of entry programs will exclude the most destitute and desperate migrants, who may not have access to Wi-Fi, mobile phones, financial means or family members in the U.S. who can sponsor them,” CBS News continued.
In announcing changes earlier this month, there was agreement that expanding parole availability is inarguably a positive step. After all, the parole program for Ukrainians has allowed more than 100,000 refugees displaced by Russia’s invasion to seek safety. The administration has also said that its latest parole changes have improved numbers at the border. Humane changes can work. But it’s the expansion of restrictionist policy—perhaps out of political expediency—that should worry all in favor of leaving behind a brutal border agenda. Especially when we know restrictionist policy doesn’t work, and especially when we know Republicans will never budge on saying the border is secure until a Republican is president again. In the end, it will only have harmed vulnerable people.
Democratic lawmakers, advocates widely condemn Biden admin proposal further restricting asylum
Biden admin's proposal further restricting asylum rights under fire from U.N. refugee agency
Venezuelans blocked from asylum under new policy say they have no choice but 'to keep going'