President Joe Biden’s new immigration program includes loopholes that could enable would-be illegal immigrants to bypass expulsion under a public health order called Title 42.
One prong of the program enables immigrants located in Mexico to submit information on a mobile application called CBP One and to schedule appointments at ports of entry, or manned entry points at the U.S.–Mexico border.
Title 42, which the Biden administration has been forced to keep in place, requires the quick expulsion of some illegal immigrants because of COVID-19 fears. It also allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, including for humanitarian reasons.
When announcing the new program, DHS said it would let migrants claim certain “vulnerability criteria” on the CBP One app. The criteria weren’t detailed.
The Epoch Times used the CBP One app after it started accepting applications for appointments and found the criteria include simply being under the age of 21 or over the age of 70.
Other criteria include having a “physical or mental illness,” having a disability, being pregnant, having “no access to safe housing or shelter in Mexico,” and having been “threatened or harmed while in Mexico.”
If an immigrant—or a person with whom they’re traveling—meets one or more of the criteria, they could be allowed into the United States as an exception to Title 42.
Meeting one or more criteria “may make you eligible for an exception” to the public health order, DHS states on the app.
The Daily Caller first reported on the criteria details.
Rodney Scott, a former U.S. Border Patrol chief, told the outlet that the exceptions represent “one more step by the Biden administration to undermine our existing immigration laws and open our borders.”
While DHS says migrants should be prepared to substantiate meeting the criteria when they arrive at a port of entry, Scott suggested it’d be impossible to validate claims of being threatened or not having safe housing in Mexico.
DHS didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The agency said previously that a scheduled appointment “is not a guarantee of exception.” A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will make a determination as to whether the immigrant meets the criteria. CBP didn’t return an inquiry.
A number of groups were already exempted from Title 42 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including unaccompanied children or youth who illegally enter the United States without a responsible adult. The director of the centers issued Title 42 in 2020 during the Trump administration and later carved out exemptions.
The CBP One app can be used by noncitizens regardless of nationality, as long as they’re in Mexico when they apply. Appointments can be made as early as Jan. 18.
“The CBP One app is an innovative solution we are using to facilitate the safe and orderly arrival of noncitizens who believe they meet certain vulnerability criteria and are requesting a humanitarian exception to the CDC’s Title 42 Order,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a Biden appointee, said in a previous statement.
The main feature of the administration is extending a parole program initially restricted to Venezuelan natives to nationals of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti. Under the program, immigrants who find a sponsor already inside the United States and pass a background check can receive legal status for two years. Up to 30,000 such immigrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, or Haiti will be processed per month, according to the White House.
Already in Operation
The CBP One system has been in operation in Mexico for several months already, with shelters there helping to select migrants for the program and help them obtain the requisite paperwork—often assisted by teams of U.S. legal students, psychologists, activists, and the U.N. International Organization for Migration.
Todd Bensman, a senior national security fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies, reported on the process from three immigration shelters in Mexico that shepherded migrants through ports of entry into the United States under the program.
Bensman called it “a highly unconventional idea far outside mainstream border management.”
The migrant shelter system in Mexicali, Mexico, sends migrants to Calexico, California. Its current shelter system holds 3,000 migrants and is usually full, so the city is building an expansion to triple its capacity.
The CBP One program is currently operating in San Diego and Calexico in California; Nogales in Arizona; and El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo, Hidalgo, and Brownsville in Texas.
“Once the Title 42 order eventually lifts, individuals will be able to use the CBP One application for scheduling an appointment to present themselves for inspection and to initiate a protection claim instead of coming directly to a port of entry to wait,” the DHS said in a statement. “This new feature will significantly reduce wait times and crowds at U.S. ports of entry and allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing.”