US to Open “Regional Center for Migrants” on June 12th

Migrants from different countries rest at the entrance to the San Ysidro Port of Entry between Tijuana and San Diego, where they plan to request asylum from the U.S. authorities. Photo: Joebeth Terriquez / EFE

Asylum seekers from any country, including Nicaragua, can file applications for refugee status, family reunification programs and work permits.

By EFE / Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – On June 12, the United States and Guatemala will begin the pilot phase of a migration program that seeks to facilitate access “through legal channels” to the USA.

The White House issued a statement on Thursday, June 1, announcing that in twelve days they planned to implement this “program to manage irregular migration,” which includes as a first step a six-month pilot phase.

As of June 12th, the so-called “Safe Mobility Offices” will begin to accept appointments on the website (it is not yet enabled).

“This program will facilitate access to legal pathways to the United States, family reunification, and access to temporary work visas,” affirmed the White House, in a joint statement with the Government of Guatemala.

Last April, the US government announced that it would create centers to manage migrant applications in Colombia and Guatemala, where people from any country —including Nicaragua— will be able to file applications for legal migration paths such as obtaining refugee status, family reunification programs and work permits.

It’s expected that the center would be able to evaluate up to 6,000 cases monthly, US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas assured at that time.

“The US will utilize the regional processing centers to speed up the preselection of people seeking legal pathways. There, people will speak with specialists, be evaluated and, if eligible, will be allowed access to refugee resettlement processing or other legal paths,” the official explained.

The measure forms part of actions adopted by President Joe Biden in an attempt to reduce the flow of migrants towards the border with Mexico. On May 11, Title 42 – a controversial immigration measure that allowed any migrants to be legally turned back – expired, sparking widespread fears of an uncontainable rush to the border. In fact, these fears turned out to be unfounded.

US and Guatemalan officials Meet

As follow up to a May 26 phone call between Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and US Vice President Kamala Harris, a high-level US delegation traveled to Guatemala on May 31 to seal the agreement.

The meeting included the Vice President’s National Security Advisor Phil Gordon, as well as Katie Tobin, Senior Director for Transborders at the National Security Council.

These two officials met with Guatemalan President Giammattei, as well as “Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and National Defense, the Solicitor General, the Migration General Director and the Ambassador of Guatemala to the United States,” according to the Joint Statement.

“As a result of this meeting, the two governments jointly commit to take a series of critical steps to humanely reduce irregular migration and expand legal pathways under the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection,” the statement affirmed.

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