CBP to begin requiring mobile app for asylum seekers to request protection at ports of entry

Immigrants wishing to transit through a U.S. port of entry to apply for asylum while pandemic policies remain in effect at the border will use a mobile app starting Thursday to make an appointment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. must be scheduled.

CBP previously partnered with a non-profit organization that identified particularly vulnerable immigrants under its Title 42 exemption, a policy that has been in place for nearly three years and has allowed asylum seekers to enter the United States to seek protection. It meant that you can’t get While general asylum processing at the port will remain closed unless Title 42 is lifted, the introduction of an app known as CBP One for Title 42 waivers is what the Biden administration will do in asylum. Port of entry procedures that could mark the beginning of a much desired change.

The administration has attempted to promote the app as a means of making asylum processing more efficient.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas said in a speech last week, “This app is designed to discourage individuals from gathering near our borders and creating dangerous situations.

“After the Title 42 order is lifted, this scheduling mechanism will ensure that non-citizens, including those seeking asylum, will appear at the port of entry for inspection and processing, rather than arriving at the port without notice. It will be available to schedule times to try to cross at immigration or between ports of entry,” Mayorkas said. “People using this process are generally eligible for employment authorization while in the United States.”

CBP said at a press conference early last year that it estimated that using CBP One would save about 15 minutes per applicant.

However, many human rights advocates oppose its use in asylum cases.

“To accept the premise that CBP One will make processing more efficient is to accept CBP’s claim that it lacks the resources to process asylum seekers, which is a lie,” said Legal Services. Erika Pinheiro, executive director of the nonprofit Al Otro Lado, said she exposed evidence that the federal government lied about its ability to avoid having to process asylum seekers years before the pandemic. She referred to information from a whistleblower who came forward in a lawsuit brought by her organization.

“Like all other travelers, it’s no more efficient than handling people when they arrive,” she added.

She and other supporters are also concerned about the app’s use of location and facial recognition and the potential for these features to compromise the security of asylum seekers.

San Ysidro, along with Calexico’s port of entry, is one of eight ports of entry participating in the new CBP One process, according to CBP documents. CBP One also offers reservations for the intersections of Brownsville, Eagle Pass, Hidalgo, Laredo and El Paso, Texas, and the Port of Nogales, Arizona.

Starting Thursday, migrants will be able to submit information to CBP via the app and receive an appointment on January 18, according to CBP. The nonprofit will continue to bring waivers to his CBP through January 17th.

Edward Orendain, interim executive director of Border Angels, one of the nonprofits that has worked with CBP, said he is still uncertain what role, if any, his organization will play in the process. said it was not clear.

A CBP spokesperson said reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. The number of reservations per day is not clear. Under a system with nonprofits, CBP assigned each organization a spot for a total of 180 people per day to transit through the San Isidro Port of Entry, according to Port Director Maritza Marin.

According to CBP, anyone applying for an exemption must demonstrate that they meet at least one of the vulnerability criteria listed in the app. physical or mental illness, disability, pregnancy, no access to safe housing or shelter in Mexico, under 21, over 70, or being threatened or harmed while in Mexico .

CBP One is available in English and Spanish.

Mr. Pinheiro was concerned that there was no way to ensure that people who needed reservations received them. A group that has used the app before found the app to crash frequently with weak internet connections, she said.

“It’s like Ticketmaster, but for asylum seekers. “There is no line of people who tried to get a reservation and couldn’t get it.”

The change comes in line with the Biden administration’s move to increase the use of Title 42.

Title 42, named after a portion of US law related to public health, was enacted by the Trump administration in March 2020. It stops asylum seekers and other illegal immigrants from entering the mainland United States and directs border officials to deport those who cross the border without permission to Mexico or their home countries.

While this policy applies in theory to undocumented border crossers, in practice it applies primarily to nationals whose return Mexico has agreed to return. In the first year of the Biden administration, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans were deported, while people of other nationalities who crossed into the mainland United States without permission were able to apply for asylum.

The Biden administration recently negotiated with Mexico to expand the nationalities it accepts to include Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians.

Initially, government officials said the policy was aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, but those who want to sustain it in the long run have decided to stop migration, not as a public health measure. I want to use it for

Since last spring, the White House has worked with certain nonprofits to identify particularly vulnerable asylum seekers who are at increased risk while waiting due to issues such as medical concerns and threats in northern Mexico. I’ve been Migrants selected by the program were given dates to stop at specific ports of entry processed under the Title 42 exemption.

Towards the end of last year, concerns surfaced about corruption in the exemption process in Tijuana.

The Union-Tribune has learned of allegations that some asylum seekers had to pay for a spot of screening by CBP, or paid to reduce waiting times when the process should have been free. Asylum seekers and non-profits have also reported cases of scammers selling contact information for the organizations processing them.

There are concerns that those seeking to profit from the asylum seekers’ vulnerability will likewise sell access to the CBP One app. CBP emphasizes that the application is free in fact sheets available online in English and Spanish.

According to Pinheiro, people who are not tech-savvy, illiterate, or do not speak a language other than English or Spanish are among the most likely to be exploited.

“If scammers can figure out how to trick Ticketmaster into getting all the tickets, they’ll understand this,” Pinheiro says. I guess.”

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