The Title 42 Covid Ban invoked by the Trump Administration is set to end on May 11, 2023. The controversial policy allowed officials at the southern border to quickly deny asylum seekers due to the ongoing COVID pandemic emergency. Now that the Biden Administration has decided to lift the ban, thousands of applicants are expected at the border in hopes of receiving protection under asylum regulations. In an effort to ease the burden at the southern border, the Biden Administration will be opening Processing Centers in Guatemala and Columbia. The intention is to have applicants present their asylum claims at these centers without having to make the dangerous journey through Latin America and Mexico to get to the US. However, new policies will also permit CBP officers to deny asylum claims at the border if they did not apply for asylum in the countries they passed through or set an appointment with CBP. With the cooperation of the Mexican government, CBP will quickly expel ineligible asylum seekers from several countries, back to Mexico. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, called on Congress to provide resources as they prepare for the anticipated surge of asylum applicants and unauthorized entries next month.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has clarified that effective March 31, 2023, immigration benefit requestors may select their gender on USCIS forms (or change a prior gender selection) without needing to provide supporting documentation for the selected gender. Documents issued by USCIS as a result of the benefit adjudication will reflect the benefit requestor’s gender selection.
In issuing this updated guidance, USCIS notes that “[r]emoving evidentiary requirements regarding gender markers better ensures that all secure identity documents and biographic data are accurate . . . it also removes the burden imposed by requiring that requestors have to publicly discuss or provide documentation regarding the gender listed on their identity documents in order to obtain a benefit or service.”
Currently, the only gender markers available are “Male” (M) or “Female” (F). The Department of Homeland Security is working on options to include an additional gender marker (“X”) for another or unspecified gender identity. USCIS will update its forms and the Policy Manual accordingly.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is moving forward with its “stampless entry program.” Last year, CBP initiated a streamlined arrival process at all 238 arriving airports, 34 seaports, all southern pedestrian ports, and most northern secondary land ports. The objective of this streamlined process is simple – to fully digitize the process of entering the United States. As part of this digitized process, CBP piloted a project to eliminate ink stamps in passports at entry. This fall CBP confirmed that this program will become permanent and expanded to all ports of entry. While CBP officers may stamp passports on request, many will not as a discretionary matter. Similarly, all I-94s are electronically issued – no paper I-94s will be issued.
This digitized change in process will have a practical impact on nonimmigrants and noncitizens. Specifically, now the only record of a noncitizen’s admission into the United States is an electronic I-94 record that is not reviewed by the applicant for admission until after admission and only if the applicant takes it upon him or herself to check their records. Errors in admission status and duration are common, and any negative consequences of an overstay due to CBP error are borne fully by the noncitizen applicant. Because of this, CYA strongly encourages all noncitizens entering the US to promptly check and download their I-94 after each re-entry into the U.S. Any errors should be taken seriously and promptly corrected. Maintaining thorough and complete records of entries and exits is often critical for recapturing nonimmigrant status, proving maintenance of status, and eligibility for naturalization.