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Biden admin reverses Trump policy limiting number of asylum-seekers at southern border

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

In President Joe Biden's latest effort to rescind Trump-era immigration policies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will no longer limit the number of illegal immigrants who can apply for asylum at land ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security announced the policy change Monday.

Under former President Donald Trump's administration, the number of migrants who could apply for asylum in the U.S. was capped under a practice known as "metering." Anyone who applied for asylum after CBP had reached its capacity to process and detain asylum-seekers at department facilities was turned away, though they could apply again another day.

The policy was intended to keep CBP from being overwhelmed by large numbers of asylum-seekers who appeared at the border while Trump was president. According to CBP, some asylum-seekers who were told to wait instead attempted to cross the border illegally and were apprehended by Border Patrol agents.

On Nov. 1, acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller issued a memo announcing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reversed the "metering" policy.

"This memo formally rescinds the Trump Administration's 'metering' policy, which was used to turn back asylum seekers trying to enter ports of entry (POE). The new guidance lays out a vision for the lawful, orderly processing of individuals applying for asylum at POEs. Among other improvements, CBP is directed to accelerate ongoing efforts to digitize processing at POEs and more effectively use data to increase throughput," CBP said in a statement to CNN.

In the memo, Miller directed the Office of Field Operations management "to consider and take appropriate measures, as operationally feasible, to increase capacity to process undocumented noncitizens at Southwest Border POEs, including those who may be seeking asylum and other forms of protection."

The memo suggested that CBP personnel should "leverage technological and processing efficiencies" to streamline processing at ports of entry. For example, asylum seekers may use a mobile application to submit information about themselves to the agency before they arrive at the border, which would help CBP process them for entry to the U.S. more quickly.

Ports of entry "must strive to process all travelers, regardless of documentation status, who are waiting to enter, as expeditiously as possible, based on available resources and capacity," the memo stated.

Additionally, the Biden administration intends to increase the number of CBP Office of Field Operations officers assigned to processing asylum-seekers at ports of entry on the southern border to deal with the large influx of migrants.

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