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Controversy erupts over CBP One app, GOP Congressman calls it a ‘Disney FastPass’ for migrants

A GOP congressman slammed the Biden administration’s CBP One App as a “Disney FastPass” for migrants into the US at a tense hearing on the US-Mexico border Wednesday.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)(AP)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) of Florida accused Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of letting migrants stay in the US indefinitely through the app, which he said was like a theme park ticket.

“This app that you’ve got everybody downloading is like the Disney FastPass into the country — never to be subject to be actual removal,” Gaetz said.

The CBP One App is the official way asylum-seekers at the southern border can request refuge in the US, by applying for a slot with border patrol to present their case before trying to enter the country.

A migrant shows the CBP One App from the US Customs and Border Protection agency, to use to apply for an appointment to claim asylum, on a phone in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on May 10, 2023. The US on May 11, 2023, will officially end its 40-month Covid-19 emergency, also discarding the Title 42 law, a tool that has been used to prevent millions of migrants from entering the country. (Photo by Gilles CLARENNE / AFP)(AFP) A migrant shows the CBP One App from the US Customs and Border Protection agency, to use to apply for an appointment to claim asylum, on a phone in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on May 10, 2023. The US on May 11, 2023, will officially end its 40-month Covid-19 emergency, also discarding the Title 42 law, a tool that has been used to prevent millions of migrants from entering the country. (Photo by Gilles CLARENNE / AFP)(AFP)

“Congressman, I disagree with everything you’re saying,” Mayorkas replied.

The government recently increased the number of CBP One slots across the Southern Border to 1,450 a day, but a slot is not a guarantee of entry into the country. But, there is still no public data on how many asylum-seekers have been admitted versus the number who have been turned away.

“You’ve sent the message to the cartels, and they’ve taken this app and you’ve digitized illegal immigration and you’ve scaled it to the moon,” Gaetz told Mayorkas, without providing any evidence for his claims.

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The migrant sorting app was launched during the Trump Administration but it has been expanded in the Biden era to allow migrants fleeing from their own governments, especially Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans into the country.

President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have praised the app saying it reduces illegal border crossings because asylum seekers have to wait in Mexico while they get a slot before entering the US or face severe penalties if they are caught crossing illegally.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)(AP) Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)(AP)

The feds cite the numbers of migrant encounters at the border, which in June were 144,000, a drop of 30% from May, when the CBP One App was widely used.

“These are the lowest monthly Southwest border encounter numbers since February 2021,” US Customs and Border Protection stated.

However, the same border stats show arrests of illegal crossers were up from 35,000 in May to 45,000 in June — an increase of 28% — showing that more migrants chose the illegal route when it became harder to enter the country legally.

Migrants who do not have a slot or cross the border illegally will be denied a chance to seek asylum in the US, the administration says.

“What you’ve done to execute this Mayorkas Doctrine, where so long as you don’t commit a crime you get to stay here and burden our hospitals, burden our schools, burden our social services, burden our jails,” Gaetz said.

Members of Congress pointed out it takes years for asylum seekers to get a final decision from overloaded immigration courts, which tell people if they qualify for asylum.

Historically less than 30% of all asylum cases filed are eventually approved.

During the hearing, the Homeland Security Secretary was asked several times to give the number of migrants who are released into the country and later ordered to be removed by a judge.

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Mayorkas told the committee he’d give the number later on.

Rep. Darrell Issa presented data from the Department of Homeland Security, indicating that a staggering 83% of asylum-seekers granted entry to the US did not meet the necessary criteria for protection.

“It’s 83% according to his own documents commencing the period from 2014-2019 and perhaps it has improved, but I doubt it,” Issa said.

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