‘Our border is not open’

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday warned migrants that the tip of pandemic-era border restrictions is not going to allow them to enter the United States by crossing the US-Mexico border.

Mr Mayorkas appeared on the each day White House press briefing to clarify the Biden administration’s preparations for the tip of Title 42 – a Trump-era public well being restriction which allowed most asylum seekers to be shortly turned again – and confused that regardless of the tip of the controversial coverage, America’s borders “are not open”.

“If anyone arrives at our southern border after midnight tonight, they will be presumed ineligible for asylum and subject to steeper consequences for unlawful entry, including a minimum five-year ban on reentry and potential criminal prosecution,” he mentioned.

Mr Mayorkas instructed reporters the Biden administration has been making ready for the eventual finish of Title 42 for the previous two years, however he additionally mentioned he and administration officers are “clear-eyed” concerning the problem that can be posed by the massive numbers of migrants who’re anticipated to aim to cross into the US in hopes of gaining asylum.

With fewer than 12 hours earlier than the expiration of that public well being authority, the Homeland Security Secretary mentioned Customs and Border Protection personnel are already seeing “high numbers” of migrant encounters which might be inserting “an incredible strain on our personnel, our facilities and our communities with whom we partner closely”.

But Mr Mayorkas mentioned he’s assured that the Biden administration’s plans, which embrace opening 100 regional processing centres in Western Hemisphere nations to deal with asylum candidates’ claims earlier than they set off for the US, in addition to new, robust rules which presume anybody coming into the US exterior of an authorised port of entry is ineligible for asylum, “will deliver results”.

He additionally cautioned that “it will take time” for the brand new insurance policies to point out their utility, however he reiterated his warning that as of 12am on Friday, the administration’s new coverage can be utilized to anybody making an attempt to enter the nation.

“I want to be very clear: Our borders are not open. People who cross our border unlawfully and without a legal basis to remain will be promptly processed and removed,” he mentioned, including later that any such individuals eliminated below pre-pandemic authorities often called Title 8 can be topic to a five-year ban on coming into the US in any capability, in addition to legal prosecution in the event that they try to cross into the US as soon as extra.

The DHS Secretary mentioned legal human smuggling operations are at present peddling disinformation to potential migrants, who’re led to imagine that the Biden administration has opened the US-Mexico border to all comers.

“Smugglers had been long, hard at work spreading false information that the border will be open. They are lying to people who are thinking of making the journey to our southern border,” he mentioned.

He then addressed potential migrants straight, telling them the smuggling rings “care only about profits, not people”.

“Do not risk your life and your life savings only to be removed from the United States, if and when you arrive here,” he mentioned.

Mr Mayorkas’ look within the White House briefing room to discuss the brand new border insurance policies is the most recent in a collection of White House-directed efforts to spotlight how the administration is opening avenues for individuals to hunt asylum within the US whereas cracking down on crossings between lawful ports of entry.

Late final month Mr Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled plans to open the regional processing centres throughout the Western Hemisphere to pre-screen asylum seekers and obviate the necessity to journey to the border to assert asylum.

At the time, senior administration officers mentioned personnel on the centres would “expedite pre-screening of individuals for lawful pathways to the United States” with interviews to find out if they’re eligible to be referred for “refugee resettlement or other lawful pathways such as parole programmes, family reunification or existing labour pathways”.

“The regional processing centres will also provide information on local options, including regularisation opportunities in the host countries and available social services,” mentioned the official, who added that the US authorities’s “criteria for refugee resettlement” will “not change” below the brand new programme.

“Individuals will be screened first for refugee resettlement, and then, if not found amenable for refugee resettlement, they will also be looked at in terms of the various parole programmes, family reunification programmes, existing labour pathways, and our international organisation partners will also be providing them with information on local options in many of the countries in the region have been very generous, and have been doing regularisation opportunities so that people can integrate locally,” they mentioned.

The new insurance policies have drawn hearth from immigration advocates who say they’re little totally different from programmes which had been extensively condemned in the course of the Trump administration.

But Mr Mayorkas instructed reporters the work carried out to deal with migration points below President Joe Biden has been “markedly different” from his predecessor’s administration, below which the system by which the federal government processed and resettled asylum seekers was “gutted” in an try to stop anybody from with the ability to search refuge within the US.

“This President has led the unprecedented expansion of lawful pathways … we have rebuilt an asylum system that was dismantled in the prior administration, we have resumed refugee processing are all around the world, and these regional processing centres are going to accelerate the board meet the refugee process in an unprecedented way,” he mentioned.

“We are a nation of immigrants and we are a nation of laws, and those laws provide that if one qualifies for humanitarian relief, then one has established a basis to remain in the United States and if one has not, then one is to be removed”.

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