Expanded CBP One app working to restore asylum access

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 7:55 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The newly expanded CBP One app is putting part of the immigration process into the hands of people who are trying to cross into the United States.

The app is meant to relieve some of the build-up at our southern border, but there are hurdles still in the way.

“This is causing a lot of inequities, that’s what we’re seeing in border towns,” said Pedro de Velasco, Director of Education and Advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative.

As thousands along Arizona’s southern border wait for the end of Title 42, many are trying their luck at the CBP One app. Humanitarian organizations like Kino Border Initiative said it’s a step in the right direction, but people coming into their organization have had trouble with the app.

“The word that we’re hearing a lot is ‘impotencia’ it’s frustrating to not be able to secure an appointment not only for themselves but for their families,” he said.

The app can only be downloaded on a smartphone, and a new smartphone at that, which many who are crossing the border don’t have access to. The app is also only available in English and Spanish at the moment. He said many aren’t good with technology either and it’s creating more work for the Kino Border Initiative.

“We have to readapt our services, so right now we are facilitating work shops for people on how to create an email address, how to download the app, how to fill out the app,” he explained.

Right now, Nogales is the only port of entry in Arizona using the app. U.S. Customs and Border Protection tells me there has been success with the app so far, but it is still in the early stages.

“We’ve had the issue where people are trying to present themselves at the border at the port of entry and they would line up in the pedestrian area everyday and it wasn’t very secure for them. There was no guarantee as to when they would come in to get processed,” said Edith Serrano, Public Affairs Liaison with CBP.

Despite technical issues many using the app have been facing, the app does have its benefits. CBP said it was created to help both non-citizens and CBP officials.

“It’s a safe and secure way for these non-citizens to present themselves at the port of entry to begin their process,” she explained. “It takes them out of the hands of the smugglers who try to take advantage of these people and charge them an inordinate amount of money to get them across.”

CBP is working to fix any technical issues with the app. They are also working on ways to expand it, including adding more languages other than just English and Spanish.