Migrants in Mexico have made more than 64.3 million requests to enter the United Statesthat the Biden administration has attempted to establish as the primary gateway to the U.S. asylum system at the southern border, internal federal government documents obtained by CBS News show.
In the program’s first year, migrants used the phone app, known as CBP One, tens of millions of times to apply for a coveted appointment to be processed by authorities. U.S. Immigration Department at an official border crossing, according to internal documents. So far, nearly 450,000 migrants have been allowed to enter the United States under this process, according to the documents.
The documents cover a 13-month period between January 2023, when the Biden administration began allowing migrants to request appointments through CBP One, and February 8, 2024. On average, migrants completed slightly less than 5 million appointment requests per month.
The number of requests does not represent unique individuals, since the total includes repeated attempts from the same people. Still, the figure illustrates the extraordinarily high demand from migrants wanting to come to the United States and the desperation that drives many of them to try again and again for a chance to enter the country.
“It’s a staggering number,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former U.S. immigration official during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “A lot of people would like to emigrate to the United States. Essentially, they see CBP One as sort of a self-petition mechanism that we’ve never had before.”
A Biden effort to control migration
The Biden administration has sought to use the CBP One system to encourage migrants to refrain from illegally crossing the border between ports of entry. Unlike those who enter the country illegally, migrants who get an appointment at CBP One can apply for work permits after being released from U.S. authorities and are not required to meet the stricter asylum requirements of a regulation from the Biden administration.
This rule presupposes that migrants are not eligible for asylum if they enter the United States illegally after failing to seek refuge in a third country, such as Mexico, before traveling to U.S. soil.
As of February 8, U.S. authorities at ports of entry along the southern border had allowed 448,701 migrants with CBP One appointments to enter the country, issuing them court summonses. immigration to plead their case, according to internal government documents.
The top countries of origin for people allowed into the United States under the program, according to documents, are Venezuela, Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, Russia, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile and Guatemala.
The CBP One process is available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Russian, and open to migrants from any country who are physically in central or northern Mexico. A geofencing feature is supposed to prevent anyone south of Mexico City from using the app.
Every morning, the U.S. government distributes 1,450 new CBP One appointments. Most of them are assigned randomly, while 30% of them are offered to migrants waiting the longest in Mexico. Those who do not get an appointment must try again the next day.
A senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said the number of requests for appointments at CBP One was “high,” but “not unreasonably high.” Migrants often reapply every day until they get an appointment, according to the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the process.
“If someone asks for five weeks in a row to get an appointment, that person shows up 35 times in that number,” the senior CBP official told CBS News.
Although the agency increased the daily number of CBP One spots several times last year, the official said it has no plans to do so again. The official noted that in addition to dozens of humanitarian exemptions to the CBP One requirement, the United States is processing more than 1,500 migrants each day at ports of entry, four times the pre-pandemic level .
Mixed results with CBP One
The CBP One system is one of several programs the Biden administration has put in place to give migrants a legal and orderly way to come to the United States, alongside an initiative that allows Americans to sponsor the entry of up to 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans each. month. These processes have been coupled with a rule that restricts asylum eligibility and expands deportations.
While the administration credits this “carrot and stick” strategy with the two-year low in illegal border crossings in June 2023, migrant crossings between ports of entry subsequently increased, reaching a quarter million in December, a record level.
The impact of the CBP One process also varies significantly by nationality. Illegal border crossings by Cubans and Haitians, two of the main nationalities using CBP One, remained very low compared to 2022 and 2021. On the other hand, tens of thousands of migrants from Central America and Venezuela continued to enter the United States illegally. each month, bypassing the CBP One system.
The senior CBP official attributed the disparate impact to large diaspora communities that help migrants from Cuba and Haiti and provide them with information about U.S. border policy.
Cardinal Brown, a former U.S. immigration official and now a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the CBP One system “provides some order” at the border. But she said many migrants are also opting out of waiting for an appointment and entering the United States without authorization.
The incentive to wait for an appointment has been diluted by the fact that many migrants who entered the country illegally are still released on court notice. Due to a lack of detention centers and asylum officers, the government has released most migrants crossing the border illegally in recent months, instead of screening them under enhanced asylum standards, according to officials. government data.
The number of appointments to CBP One, Cardinal Brown added, is “clearly a drop in the ocean of the massive number of migrants who are moving through this hemisphere and trying to get to the United States.”
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