A Border Patrol agent calls the names of the asylum seekers in Brownsville, Texas, March 15, 2021. (Veronica G. Cardenas/Reuters)
The Department of Homeland Security has revoked a measure implemented under the Trump administration restricting the admission of illegal immigrants at legal U.S. ports of entry.
In a memo released Monday, acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Troy Miller reversed the Trump-era policy, which limited processing capacity at ports of entry in order to prevent border patrol from being overwhelmed by a flood of asylum claims, filed by migrants who know they will be admitted into the country while their cases are being adjudicated regardless of the merits of their claims.
Ordered under then DHS Secretary Nielsen in 2018, the practice and immigration deterrence mechanism of “queue management,” called “metering” in the memo, involves the stationing of CBP officers around the U.S.-Mexico border to effectively create a wait list for migrants attempting to gain entry. Since assuming office, the Biden administration has argued that the Trump policy prevented legitimate asylum-seekers from making their claims.
In the memo, the Biden administration rescinded that policy, but it maintained its predecessor’s Title 42 regulation granting immigration personnel the authority to reject and expel migrants without a court hearing on the basis of COVID public health concerns. The CDC renewed the policy in August amid legal entanglements with the American Civil Liberties Union and others.
“This memo formally rescinds the Trump Administration’s ‘metering’ policy, which was used to turn back asylum seekers trying to enter ports of entry (POE). The new guidance lays out a vision for the lawful, orderly processing of individuals applying for asylum at POEs. Among other improvements, CBP is directed to accelerate ongoing efforts to digitize processing at POEs and more effectively use data to increase throughput,” CBP said in a statement.
The Monday memo directs the Office of Field Operations management “to consider and take appropriate measures, as operationally feasible, to increase capacity to process undocumented non-citizens at Southwest Border POEs, including those who may be seeking asylum and other forms of protection.”
While the CBP works to process illegal aliens, especially at a time of surging migration that has broken multiple-year records, the agency says it is upholding its other priorities of public safety, national security, illegal drug and contraband apprehension, and free trade and travel facilitation at the same time.
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