Italy and Greece will reportedly take in some of the Latin American asylum-seekers File photo: US Border Patrol picks up migrants who crossed the border from Mexico near San Diego, California, May 26, 2024. © Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images

Some of the migrants applying for asylum at US outposts in Latin America may be sent to Italy or Greece instead, CBS News reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources and documents from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Washington set up “Safe Mobility Offices” (SMO) in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala last year, with the idea to reduce illegal border crossings by letting people apply to immigrate legally. Arrangements have already been made with Spain and Canada to take some of these migrants.

Greece and Italy would likely accept “roughly 500 or fewer” migrants each under the new arrangements, which have not yet been officially announced, one source told CBS.

A State Department spokesperson told the outlet that “we are in diplomatic discussions with other countries about joining this initiative to expand lawful pathways for resettlement, but have no additional information to share at this time.”

Greek and Italian governments did not respond to requests for comment by CBS.

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Both countries, as well as Spain, have been dealing with thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East, seeking asylum and social services offered by the EU.

According to the State Department, the SMOs have “enabled a six-fold increase in the number of refugees resettled from the Western Hemisphere.”

US government documents seen by CBS showed that “roughly 10,000 migrants” have been processed through the Refugee Admissions Program, which required them to prove they were fleeing persecution on the grounds of political views, religion or “other factors.”

Each of the four SMO has different rules about who may apply. The Guatemala office processes only requests from Guatemalans. Only Nicaraguans and Venezuelans may apply in Costa Rica. The Colombia office accepts claims by Cubans, Haitians and Venezuelans. The office in Ecuador can process requests by Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Colombians.

The US has seen a surge in illegal border crossings since January 2021, when President Joe Biden repealed most of his predecessor Donald Trump’s immigration policies. The White House has since argued that the previous restrictions were “inhumane” to millions of foreigners who sought to move to the US. (RT)