Trump administration postpones immigration hearings for migrants waiting in Mexico

  • Trump administration postpones immigration hearings for migrants waiting in Mexico

Trump administration postpones immigration hearings for migrants waiting in Mexico

The Trump administration is postponing all hearings related to the administration's controversial policy of returning migrants to Mexico until their court date in the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus, the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review announced Monday evening.

Though the spokesperson said the "Remain in Mexico" policy was not being "canceled", Monday's move will partially paralyze the centerpiece of the Trump administration's restrictive asylum policies created to discourage migration to the US southern border.

"Due to circumstances resulting from Covid-19, all Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) master calendar and merit hearings presently scheduled through April 22 will be rescheduled", the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration instituted a policy a year ago that has sent back some 60,000 migrants requesting asylum to wait on the Mexican side of the border for U.S. immigration court hearings.

Mexico reported 405 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, up from 367 a day earlier, and five deaths overall.

The delays come after the administration announced Friday that it would deny entry to migrants, including those seeking asylum, who attempt to cross borders without authorization. The restrictions, which the administration said were necessary because of the pandemic, bar the entry of migrants without proper documents, even at ports of entry. The program has already sent more than 6,000 Latin American asylum-seekers to northern Mexico as they wait for their cases to process.

Richard Newman, an immigration attorney with the non-profit San Antonio Region Justice For Our Neighbors, said Monday's announcement was a good move from a public health perspective.

Lawyers for the asylum seekers called the government's policy illegal, adding that in the months that it has been in effect "reports of murder, rape, torture kidnapping, and other violent assaults against returned asylum seekers have climbed".

Although the spokesperson said the "Stay in Mexico" policy was not "canceled", the decision made on Monday will partially paralyze the centerpiece of the Trump administration's restrictive asylum policies aimed at discouraging migration to the southern border of the United States. In the U.S., the decision applies to all migrants.

"These people are broken-hearted", Newman told CBS News.