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US Girds for Migrant Movement

Migrants try to get to the U.S. through the Rio Grande as seen from Matamoros, state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. A surge of migrants is expected at the U.S.-Mexico border as the Biden administration officially ends its use of Title 42. Taken May 11. 2023.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. is putting new restrictions into place at its southern border to try to to stop migrants from crossing illegally and encourage them instead to apply for asylum online through a new process. This, as COVID-era regulations are lifted.

The changes come with the end of coronavirus restrictions on asylum that have allowed the U.S. to quickly turn back migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border for the past three years. Those restrictions are known as Title 42.

The Biden administration has put into place a series of new policies cracking down on illegal crossings. The administration says it's trying to stop people from paying smuggling operations.

Now there will be strict consequences. Migrants caught crossing illegally will not be allowed to return for five years and can face criminal prosecution if they do.

The Biden administration is now turning away anyone seeking asylum who didn’t first seek protection in a country they traveled through, or first applied online. This is a version of a Trump administration policy that was overturned by the courts. Advocacy groups sued to block the new rule minutes before it took effect.

The U.S. has said it will accept up to 30,000 people per month from Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Cuba as long as they come by air, have a sponsor and apply online first. The government also will allow up to 100,000 people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras into the U.S. who have family here if they, too, apply online. Border officials will otherwise deport people, including turning back 30,000 per month from Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba who will be sent back over the border to Mexico.

Other migrants also may be allowed in if they apply through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection One app. Right now, 740 people per day have been allowed in using the app, which is being increased to 1,000 per day.

Border patrol stations are meant to house migrants temporarily and don’t have capacity to hold the volume of people coming. Some stations are already too crowded. As a result, agents began releasing migrants into the U.S. with instructions to appear at an immigration office within 60 days or face deportation.

Florida filed a lawsuit claiming the releases violate an earlier court ruling. Late Thursday, a federal judge agreed and at least temporarily halted the administration’s plan for releases. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that it would comply with the court order, while also calling it a “harmful ruling that will result in unsafe overcrowding ... and undercut our ability to efficiently process and remove migrants.”