WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration will open migration centers in Guatemala and Colombia for asylum seekers heading to the U.S.-Mexico border, in a bid to slow what’s expected to be a surge of migrants seeking to cross as pandemic-era immigration restrictions end, U.S. officials said Thursday.
The migration centers are part of an intense effort to try to prevent thousands of people from making the often-dangerous journey to the southern border when the restrictions end May 11.
But it is unclear whether the processing centers and other measures, including expedited processing for asylum seekers and crackdowns on human smuggling networks, will do much to slow the tide of migrants fleeing from countries marred by political and economic strife.
The Biden administration, under attack by Republicans eager to paint the border as wide open under his leadership, has repeatedly warned that the end of the pandemic-era immigration restrictions does not mean that migrants should try to come to the U.S. as they’ve also sought to open other avenues for migration.
In a call with reporters Thursday, three senior administration officials detailed the migration centers, as well as other steps the administration was taking.
So far, centers will be located in both Colombia and Guatemala, with other countries to be announced in the coming weeks, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to reporters ahead of the public announcement.