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The app has become the main portal to the US asylum system under the Biden administration

EL PASO, Texas — To reach the U.S. border, 23-year-old Karla Delgado walked through Panama’s treacherous Darien jungle with her husband and four young children. In Mexico, they traveled aboard a freight train known as “The Beast,” a dangerous journey that has left some migrants with limb loss or death.

By any measure, the day the family entered the United States was much simpler. They lined up with dozens of migrants early Monday morning on the main bridge connecting El Paso to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. After hours of processing, health screenings and background checks, the family was released from U.S. custody with a notice to appear in immigration court, where they would have the opportunity to apply for asylum.

“I’m happy because thank God, we reached our goal, which was to get here,” Delgado said after leaving the Customs and Border Protection facility at the Paso del Norte bridge. “We are safe,” said her husband, Zahir Aguirre, 27, who entered the United States a few days ago. He noted that the family planned to fly to Chicago.

The family benefited from a program the Biden administration launched earlier this year to discourage illegal border crossings by allowing immigrants to use a phone app to set up an appointment at international bridges, where U.S. officials determine whether they should be allowed to request asylum in the country. whether .

The Biden administration plans to run the process through an app, called CBP One, the main portal to the US asylum system at the southern border, which sends the message that those who fail to wait for an appointment and attempt to enter the country. Permission will be returned promptly.

More than 60,000 asylum-seekers have secured appointments to enter the United States since the CBP One app became available to immigrants in mid-January, according to undisclosed government data. Most of those scheduled for appointments are from Venezuela, Haiti, Russia, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Chile and Brazil.


Carla Delgado, 23, her husband Zahir Aguirre, 27, and their four children enjoy pizza and chicken wings in El Paso on their first day in the United States.

CBS News / “60 Minutes”

The app is a component of it A modified border strategy President Biden unveiled in January an expansion of an epidemic-era rule known as Title 42 to deport those who enter the country illegally and sponsor a program to admit up to 30,000 immigrants each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The policies have so far led to less than two years of apprehension of migrants at official border crossings.

But human rights advocates say the tactic has exacerbated an acute humanitarian crisis in northern Mexico, where migrants are increasingly frustrated by their inability to secure one of the hundreds of lucrative appointments handed out by the United States each morning.

The plight of those stranded in Mexico was tragically portrayed the fire Last month inside a Mexican immigration detention facility in Ciudad Juarez that killed more than three dozen migrants. The Mexican government maintains that a protesting migrant started the fire, although it has arrested several guards to face charges of killing and wounding.


While advocates for asylum seekers have called CBP One a gimmicky app that fails to provide enough space to help the large number of desperate immigrants seeking U.S. sanctuary, Republicans have slammed it as a “concierge service” for those lacking proper documentation to enter. The country.

Despite those concerns, Biden administration officials have defended the CBP One process as an effort to maintain some access to the overwhelmed U.S. asylum system, while also preventing illegal border crossings from returning to the unprecedented levels reported last year.

Indeed, CBP One will continue to play a major role in the administration’s border policy after May 11, when the expiration of the national COVID-19 public health emergency is set to trigger Title 42.

The administration plans to increase the number of immigrants allowed to enter the U.S. under the CBP One process from 740 to 1,000 per day, senior U.S. officials told CBS News, requesting anonymity to discuss internal plans. The number of participating bridges will also increase, officials said.

Currently, CBP allows one immigrant to request a humanitarian exemption under Title 42. But after the pandemic-era rules are lifted, the app will soon allow migrants to avoid the issue regulations It would bar immigrants from asylum if they fail to seek asylum in a third country on their way to the U.S. Those who fail to use the app and enter the U.S. illegally will risk immediate deportation.


Immigrant families at a women’s and children’s shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, try to secure a CBP One appointment to enter the United States.

CBS News / “60 Minutes”

Angela Kelly, who served as DHS’s top immigration official until May 2022, said the administration is “trying to figure out what is the secret sauce of adequate legal pathways and opportunities to apply for asylum so that people can wait and cross legally.” try, rather than a smuggler.”

“Yes, it’s imperfect but it’s a lot better than anything we’ve had in the past. It seems like an investment in the future,” Kelly said.

In an interview with “60 Minutes,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he wouldn’t call CBP One “flawless.” But he emphasized that the app is part of a larger effort to create a “safe and orderly” way for immigrants to request US asylum. Under the proposed asylum ban, Mayorkas added, immigrants would not have to use CBP One if they can prove they have a medical emergency or are fleeing imminent danger.

“It’s very much a work in progress. But we’re seeing a tremendous movement of people at the same time. The challenge can’t be overstated,” said Mayorkas.

“Reducing recourse to Ticketmaster”

Anyone with a smartphone can download CBP One. But immigrants seeking Title 42 exemptions can only secure an appointment if they live north of Mexico City, due to a geofencing limit set by U.S. officials.

The app, which is available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, asks immigrants to create a profile and submit a photo of their face and basic information such as their legal name, nationality and date of birth.

On paper, the app states that Title 42 exemptions are only available to those who have a physical or mental illness or disability; pregnant women; lack of safe and stable housing for immigrants in Mexico; Those below 21 years of age or above 70 years of age; or asylum seekers who have been threatened or harmed in Mexico. But the app does not require migrants to prove they are part of a vulnerable group.

Every morning at 11 am ET / 9 am MT, the US distributes hundreds of new CBP One appointments 13 days in advance. Within minutes, they were all gone.


While the CBP One app has allowed 60,000 asylum seekers to secure appointments to enter the U.S., it has also created a bottleneck for desperate migrants in Mexico.

CBS News / “60 Minutes”

Blaine Bookey, legal director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California, San Francisco, called CBP One “extremely arbitrary,” saying it failed to prioritize the most urgent immigration cases, such as victims in Mexico or those waiting the longest there.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to who gets an appointment,” Bookey said. “It’s like reducing asylum to Ticketmaster.”

Citing interviews with migrants in Tijuana, Bucci said the process, in some ways, excludes the most vulnerable of asylum seekers, such as those who are illiterate or cannot afford phones, while giving preferential treatment to those with the best quality smartphones. and access to a strong Internet connection.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said it has made several updates to improve CBP One, including making it easier for parents and children to get appointments as a group. It noted that CBP was aware of delays when new spots were distributed in the morning due to increased traffic, but said problems “could also stem from hardware issues with end users or Internet access and reliability.”

“CBP sees no clear distinction or indication that any particular group is being disadvantaged based on the number of applications,” the department said.

The app did not help Guadalupe Vásquez de Jesús, 32, and her three children enter the United States. Bullet Her son, she added, needed treatment to remove a bullet fragment from his left eye, but was unable to get care in Mexico.

In February, Vásquez de Jesus went to the Paso del Norte Bridge to plead with US officials to let his family in, but they refused entry, prompting him to break down in tears during an interview with Telemundo. She waited two months at a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, trying to get an appointment every day — to no avail.

“I don’t know what to do. My other son, who was in the accident, just wants to go home. But I don’t want to go back. I’m not going back,” Vasquez de Jesus said. An interview with “60 Minutes” last month.

Vasquez de Jesus’ fortunes changed only after lawyers intervened and told U.S. officials about the family’s urgent humanitarian case. On April 4, less than two days after she was featured on “60 Minutes,” Vasquez de Jesus and her three children, Renee, 9, Ricardo, 7, and Aleda, 3, returned to the bridge near El Paso.


Guadalupe Vásquez de Jesús, 32, pleaded with US border officials in El Paso to let her family enter the country on humanitarian grounds.

CBS News / “60 Minutes”

Initially, US officials told him he could not enter without a CBP ONE appointment. But attorneys traveling with Vasquez de Jesus said the family was granted entry to the U.S. outside the CBP One program. The family’s plight was also covered by “60 Minutes,” officials said.

After a second group of officers arrived, Vasquez de Jesus and her children were allowed to enter the United States. With Ricardo leading the way, the family took their first steps on the same bridge on American soil where they had been turned away weeks earlier.

Andy Court and Annabel Hanflig contributed reporting.

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