White House Unveils New Plan for Tackling Border Crossings Post-Covid

April 27, 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced new border security measures in a joint press conference on Thursday.

The measures that the Biden Administration is set to undertake include new processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia to help migrants from South and Central America seek lawful pathways into the U.S. Simultaneously, the government will apply tougher enforcement measures to illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossings.

The Administration has been prepping a new strategy in anticipation of a possible influx of migrants at the southern border after Covid-19 restrictions end in May.

On January 30, President Biden had said he planned to end the public health emergency for Covid-19 on May 11. The Covid national emergency has already ended early, on April 10.

When the health emergency ends, it will undercut the rationale behind the implementation of Title 42, a decades-old clause in the health code that allows the government to take emergency action to stop the “introduction of communicable diseases” into the U.S.

Title 42 had been rarely used until the Trump Administration implemented it as an immigration policy when the Covid pandemic struck. The Biden Administration continued its use, invoking it to expel migrants more than 2 million times, although many were encounters with repeat border-crossers.

“We know smugglers will seek to take advantage of the end of Title 42, and that the first few weeks will be challenging,” Mayorkas said at Thursday’s joint press conference. “Let me be clear: Our border is not open.”

According to Customs and Border Protection, nationwide total migrant encounters for the fiscal year through December 2022 was 863,929.

Currently, the CBP has the capacity to detain 6,000 migrants at processing centers on the border, and it plans to add space for 2,500 more, according to the agency’s acting commissioner Troy Miller.

“These centers will take a hugely important step to prevent people from making the dangerous journey to the border by providing a much safer legal option to migrate that they can pursue in and from their own countries,” Blinken said on Thursday.

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