The Biden administration announced Friday plans to allow some Latin American and Caribbean migrants who are currently in Mexico to enter the United States as refugees.
In a push to offer migrants a safer alternative to crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, the White House announced Friday it will allow some migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who are already in Mexico to cross to the U.S. legally through the refugee resettlement program.
The new initiative will also allow eligible migrants to use the U.S. Customs and Border Protection app to book an appointment with a U.S. immigration officer before approaching the border.
“We encourage migrants to use these legal pathways instead of putting their lives in the hands of dangerous smugglers and traffickers,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
The new initiative also allows asylum-seekers to enter a path to permanent residency and citizenship in addition to receiving government benefits only available to migrants with refugee status.
As part of the agreement, Mexico also agreed to build “multipurpose international spaces” in its southern border to offer migrants new asylum and temporary employment permits before they reach the U.S.
“The expanded cooperation between the United States and Mexico to manage our shared border in a humane and orderly way is a testament to strong and enduring bonds of friendship and partnership between our two countries,” the White House said.
The new initiative announced by the Biden administration comes two months after the expiration of pandemic-era border restriction known as Title 42 in May.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 85,000 migrants have been deported since Title 42 was lifted, that’s up 65% since the same period last year, when 51,246 migrants were repatriated.