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CRS on "Metering" by CBP

October 18, 2021 (1 min read)

Hillel R. Smith, CRS, "The Department of Homeland Security’s “Metering” Policy: Legal Issues" - Oct. 15, 2021

"Generally, a non-U.S. national (alien, as the term is used in the Immigration and Nationality Act [INA]) who arrives in the United States without valid documentation is subject to a streamlined, expedited removal process, but may pursue asylum and related protections if the alien demonstrates a credible fear of persecution in his or her country of origin. Before the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had been limiting the number of asylum seekers who were processed each day at designated ports of entry along the U.S. southern border. Aliens affected by this policy generally had not yet reached the U.S. border and were required to remain in Mexico until CBP decided it could process them. This policy— known as “metering”—sought to address an “unprecedented rise in asylum requests,” as well as safety and health concerns resulting from overcrowding at ports of entry. The policy has led to long wait times and overcrowded conditions on the Mexican side of the border, and has arguably incentivized attempts to illegally cross the border between ports of entry. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBP in March 2020 implemented a policy that largely shut down asylum processing for many aliens arriving at the U.S. border (sometimes referred to as the “Title 42” policy). The policy remains in effect, but does not apply to certain categories of aliens (e.g., unaccompanied minors and other individuals who CBP officials determine should be exempted for humanitarian reasons). As a result, since March 2020, CBP has largely suspended metering, and most asylum processing “waitlists” have been closed to aliens seeking to enter the United States after that date. To date, there has only been one challenge to metering that has resulted in a decision by a federal district court, though litigation in that case remains ongoing. ... [More...] ..."