The Biden Administration on Wednesday will begin denying asylum to migrants who show up at the southern border without first applying online or seeking protection in a country they passed through.
The announced crackdown comes one day before Title 42, the pandemic era health policy that allowed for expulsions of migrants at the border, ends along with the Covid-19 national public health emergency, is set to end. The anticipated deadline has already led to a growing number of migrants at the border.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Wednesday, “We will once again process people at our southern border using our immigration enforcement authorities under Title 8 of the United States code.”
The plan stops short of a total ban. However, it will impose severe limitations on asylum for border crossers who don’t first seek a legal pathway.
“Our overall approach is to build lawful pathways for people to come to the United States and to impose tougher consequences on those who choose not to use those pathways,” Mayorkas said.
After Thursday, migrants caught crossing the border illegally will not be allowed to return for five years. They can face criminal prosecution if they attempt to do so.
The policy was first announced in February but was finalized on Wednesday. It’s likely to face legal challenges.
Along with the crackdown, the U.S. government plans to open regional hubs where migrants can apply to enter the U.S., Canada or Spain.
In January, Customs and Border Protection unveiled a mobile app, CBP One, available in both English and Spanish, to allow migrants to schedule a time when they can arrive at a port of entry.
There are currently some 24,000 law enforcement officers stationed along the nearly 2,000-mile Mexican border. The Administration has also deployed some 1,500 active duty troops who are being assigned to administrative duties while the CPB handles enforcement.
“We are clear-eyed about the challenges we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead which have the potential to be very difficult,” Mayorkas said Wednesday.