President Joe Biden is using his presidential authority to quit using Title 42, a health law introduced during the Covid pandemic, to control immigration at the borders with Mexico and Canada.
The administration says that in its place, it is rolling out a plan that encourages migrants to use legal pathways, some of them targeted to aid some migrants from certain countries. The administration has also said its plan is to use deterrence and diplomacy to discourage people from trying to enter the country illegally.
Here are some of the policies and requirements the Biden administration is using or has announced it plans to use as Title 42 ends Thursday:
- Replace Title 42 with Title 8, the section of the U.S. law dealing with immigration and nationality that was used at the borders before the pandemic.
- Levy penalties allowed under Title 8 from $50 to $250 in fines and six months to two years in prison for each attempt to cross the border without legal permission and twice the fines for anyone previously fined or imprisoned. Penalties are more severe if a person has a criminal record and re-enters the country illegally. Title 42 had suspended those penalties, which led to an increase in the number of people who repeatedly crossed the border after they had been expelled.
- Require anyone who wants to apply for asylum to make an appointment through the CBP One phone app. The number of appointments available per day through the app expands from about 800 to about 1,000, and appointments can be made 23 hours a day.
- Toughen rules about asylum so applications are open only to people who can show they applied to third countries and were rejected and that they tried to make appointments through CBP One. The tougher rules propose some exceptions for unaccompanied children, people in imminent danger and certain trafficking victims.
- Allow 30,000 Haitians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Cubans per month who have U.S. sponsors to apply for humanitarian parole in the U.S. Those who qualify get to work in the country for two years.
- Add asylum officers and immigration judges to expedite processing times. Conduct "credible fear interviews" of people asking for asylum earlier in the process and provide legal services so removals can be expedited.
- Deploy 1,500 active-duty military personnel to help Border Patrol with processing paperwork.
- Bring in thousands of contractors and non-uniformed employees to support administrative tasks usually done by Border Patrol agents.
- Expand Border Patrol capacity for holding migrants and increase Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal flights, doubling and tripling some for certain countries.
- Open processing centers in countries where people can apply for legal immigration to the U.S., Canada, Spain and other countries.
- Increase Panamanian, Colombian and U.S. personnel in the Darien Gap region to counter smugglers and turn back migrants traveling through it to get to the U.S.
- Create a legal way for families from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia to reunite with family members in the U.S.
- Apply an agreement with Mexico to accept more migrants turned away from the U.S. border.
Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have touted the measures as "historic steps to secure the border" in lieu of meaningful immigration action by Congress.
But Republicans as well as some Democrats have said the administration is not doing enough to deal with the large numbers of people trying to cross into the U.S. and their impact on border cities and states. Republicans have tried to stop the end of Title 42 in court; in Congress, the GOP is trying to pass an enforcement-only bill that, among other things, would resume building a border wall. Biden has said he would veto the bill.
Democrats and immigration advocates have also criticized the administration, arguing the policies make it tougher to seek asylum in the U.S.