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'Our borders are not open': New US immigration rules come into force

As the sun sets, migrants wait outside a gate in the border fence to enter into El Paso, Texas, to be processed by the Border Patrol, Thursday, May 11, 2023
As the sun sets, migrants wait outside a gate in the border fence to enter into El Paso, Texas, to be processed by the Border Patrol, Thursday, May 11, 2023 Copyright Andres Leighton/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Andres Leighton/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Mark Armstrong with AFP, AP
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US Homeland Security insists "our borders are not open", as new immigration rules come into force that many migrants think will make it harder for them to obtain asylum.

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Thousands of migrants gathered at the US-Mexico border on Thursday night ahead of the end of 'Title 42', a rule implemented by Donald Trump during the pandemic that allowed for immediate deportations of migrants who crossed the border irregularly.

The provision was due to expire at midnight and replaced with new rules many immigrants think could further limit their chances of gaining access to the US.

The presence of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) patrols intensified in border towns like El Paso as the United States tried to persuade Latin American migrants fleeing their countries not to attempt to cross the border.

"I want to be very clear, our borders are not open," US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said. 

"People who cross our border unlawfully and without a legal basis to remain will be promptly processed and removed."

From now on, 'Title 8' applies the rule of historically-governing migration in the United States.

In addition, President Joe Biden's administration has announced new measures restricting access to asylum seekers.

Those new regulations, crafted by the administration of President Joe Biden as it seeks to alleviate pressure at the border, require asylum-seekers and other migrants to request entry from outside the country.

Five-year bans or criminal charges will be levied against those who try to cross illegally.

The US has pledged to set up processing centres in other countries and is creating special refugee programs for some places like Haiti and expanding temporary work permits.

Asylum-seekers are required to seek interviews via a smartphone app -- though users report it is glitchy at best, it presents a hurdle for those without working phones or Wi-Fi, and Customs and Border Patrol can only set 1,000 appointments a day.

But House Republicans are pushing for a tougher line and on Thursday passed a sweeping bill to extend the US-Mexico border wall and impose new measures on migrants.

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