Title 42 is over; Biden says new approach at southern border will take time to work

 WASHINGTON − An emergency immigration restriction which allowed easier expulsion of migrants at the southern border has ended after more than three years, likely accelerating a surge of asylum seekers that had already begun in anticipation of the change.

The controversial Title 42 program had been tied to the federal public health emergency for COVID-19. That also expired at the end of May 11.

The Biden administration, which had been blocked by the Supreme Court from ending the Trump-era policy earlier, has been preparing for the change for nearly two years.

Still, President Joe Biden acknowledged Tuesday that the border is “going to be chaotic for a while.”

Thousands of migrants have been waiting in Mexico for the restriction to end. Border communities say crossings have already dramatically increased.

A baby is passed between people as migrants make their way into the Rio Grande as they cross to enter the United States on May 11, 2023 in Matamoros, Mexico.

Republicans, and even some Democrats, have accused the administration of not being prepared.

Biden said his team has done everything it can, despite getting half the funding it requested from Congress. But it will take time for new approach to work.

Although border patrol agents can no longer expel migrants for public health reasons, the administration has a new rule that migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border will be turned away unless they’ve first applied online or sought protection in a country they’ve passed through.

Migrants caught crossing illegally won’t be allowed to return for five years. They can be criminally prosecuted if they attempt to cross again.

The administration also plans opening regional hubs around the hemisphere where people can apply for asylum without traveling to the United States.

“Our overall approach is to build lawful pathways for people to come to the United States and to impose tougher consequences on those who choose not to use those pathways,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a press conference Wednesday.

More:When Title 42 expires, will migrants be prosecuted for crossing border illegally?

To deal with the tidal wave of migrants, the administration is sending 1,500 troops to the border, shifting hundreds more asylum officers and immigration judges to speed up the processing of migrants and expanding holding capacity while also increasing the number of removal flights.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., charged Biden with mismanaging the situation.

“This is President Biden’s record on the border,” McCarthy said in a floor speech Wednesday. “Record Crossings. Record carelessness. Record chaos.”

While immigration advocates and human rights groups praised the lifting of Title 42, they’ve called the new rules a reversal of the administration’s stated commitment to restoring access to asylum.

More:Title 42 expiration date nears: What we know about the ending of a pandemic-era border policy

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