The first batch of migrants arrive under the US sponsorship program, which has approved hundreds of cases in days

Washington – The first group of migrants legally allowed to enter the US under an expanded immigration process with private sponsorship arrived earlier this week, just days later it was started by the Biden administration to prevent illegal border crossings, government figures from CBS News show.

Ten migrants have entered the United States under the program, which will allow up to 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans with America-based financial sponsors to fly to the United States each month. The first arrivals came Tuesday, five days after the US began accepting applications for the program.

More than 600 other migrants from these four troubled countries were screened and approved for entry into the United States by Friday, according to unreleased government data. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also received thousands of applications from potential sponsors.

Those treated under the sponsorship initiative are granted probation, a quasi-immigrant status that allows them to legally enter, live and work in the United States on humanitarian or public interest grounds. The Biden administration has used the same authority to relocate tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.

Data on arrivals and approved cases shows the Biden administration has acted quickly to implement an unprecedented program that it believes will be key to managing migration along the US-Mexico border in light of the record levels of migrant arrests there.

The expanded sponsorship program, first unveiled by President Biden last week, is part of a new strategy his administration hopes will significantly reduce illegal border crossings by combining expanded legal migration channels with tougher enforcement measures for those who fail to do so legal permission to enter the country.

Illegal border crossings have plummeted since the measures were announced, a senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told CBS News, asking for anonymity to describe internal data. U.S. border officials are recording an average of 4,000 daily arrests of migrants, compared to 7,000 daily averages in November, the official said.

A similar dynamic occurred last fall when the Biden administration began deporting some Venezuelans to Mexico and allowing others to enter legally if they had financial sponsors. Officials said the expanded sponsorship program is designed to replicate the policy’s perceived success for Venezuelans.

A Nicaraguan family crosses the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, USA, to seek political asylum on December 27, 2022.


Mr. Biden announced last week that migrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua would face immediate deportation to Mexico if they unlawfully crossed the southern border, an extension of Health Law Title 42, which the Trump administration first referred to earlier in the year had called pandemic.

The Biden administration also announced it would strengthen expedited deportation of migrants who cannot be processed under Title 42, as well as a proposed regulation that would debar migrants asylum if they entered the US illegally after failing to seek protection in third countries such as Mexico.

Officials presented at the same time a new process that will allow asylum seekers to use a mobile app to request an appointment to appear at a port of entry to apply for permission to enter the United States. The procedure was launched on Thursday and the first appointments at the port of entry are scheduled for January 18.

“We can’t stop people from making the journey, but we can demand that they get here in an orderly manner under US law,” Mr. Biden said in his White House speech last week.

While the new measures appear to have resulted in an immediate reduction in illegal border crossings, their long-term effects are unclear. Mr Biden’s revised border strategy has also drawn criticism from right and left.

Immigration hardliners have condemned the large-scale use of the parole board, which they say should only be used in exceptional cases.

While Biden’s allies have welcomed the expanded sponsorship process, some Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocates have criticized the new measures for drawing at least in part on Trump-era policies, such as the Title 42 deportations currently underway in the The focus is on a case before the Supreme Court.

In a private briefing with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus raised several concerns about border enforcement policies, particularly the proposal to bar some migrants from asylum. The proposal, they noted, is similar to a Trump administration asylum restriction that has been blocked in federal court.

Human rights activists have also raised concerns that the sponsorship and immigration programs will exclude the most destitute and desperate migrants, who may not have access to Wi-Fi, cellphones, financial resources, or family members in the US to sponsor them.

Under the private sponsorship programs that precede the expanded initiative announced last week, the US has allowed about 102,000 Ukrainians and more than 11,000 Venezuelans into the country on probation, according to government statistics.

Officials said those who arrived under the sponsorship schemes were subjected to background checks and security clearances. The first batch of migrants arrive under the US sponsorship program, which has approved hundreds of cases in days

Rick Schindler

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