USA to Permit Some Asylum Seekers to Return from Mexico

  • USA to Permit Some Asylum Seekers to Return from Mexico

USA to Permit Some Asylum Seekers to Return from Mexico

The move marks a first step toward overturning the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the "remain in Mexico" policy, which since being implemented in January 2019 has forced migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed in the United States.

Asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico while their cases are being resolved in the United States will begin to be admitted into the USA as of next week, President Joe Biden's administration announced Friday.

Media reports have said migrants will be tested for the coronavirus in Mexico before entering the U.S.

The news was welcomed with relief in a sprawling migrant camp in the Mexican city of Matamoros, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

"I've been reading all the articles", said Salvadoran asylum seeker Sandra Andrade, who has been waiting in Mexico for over a year to resolve her U.S. court case.

The move by Mr Biden comes amidst a flurry of executive actions to undo many of Mr Trump's immigration policies.

On Biden's first day in office, the Homeland Security Department suspended the policy for new arrivals.

"Last night, I was in the phone for two straight hours with Xi Jinping", Biden told reporters - an unusually long interaction for a U.S. president, with whom even face-to-face meetings rarely stretch beyond an hour.

Jewish Family Service of San Diego housed 191 asylum-seekers the first 10 days of February after they were released, up from 144 in January and 54 in December, said Eitan Peled, the group's border services advocate. Administration officials have said repeatedly that the vast majority of people who cross the border illegally are quickly expelled under a public health order in place since the pandemic struck in March, but releases of some asylum-seeking families in Texas and California has worked against that messaging.

President Donald Trump tours a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Alamo Texas. During the Trump administration's final weeks the Department of Homeland Security quietly signed agreements with at least fou

The officials, all of whom requested anonymity, only outlined procedures for people with active cases in U.S. immigration courts.

Austin Kocher, a faculty fellow at TRAC, said that "unfortunately, DHS's process for hearing these remaining cases relies on a virtual registration process that may actually exclude precisely those asylum-seekers who don't have access to technology and who are the most in need of protection".

Under the plan, migrants will need to register with worldwide organizations over the internet or by phone and await instructions. "You have said that America can be defined in one word: Possibilities". However, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the refugee agency would work with both the U.S. and Mexican governments to ensure migrants in the program could safely enter the United States.

The migrants' claims will initially be heard at three ports of entry along the border, with organizations working to identify those in line the longest and those deemed particularly vulnerable. Authorities "plan to start slowly with two border crossings each processing up to 300 people a day and a third crossing taking fewer", the Associated Press reported Friday. The effort will expand to additional ports over time. "Administration officials declined to name them out of fear they may encourage a rush of people to those locations".

Migrants entering the United States through the program will not be placed in detention centers, but could be subject to an alternative form of monitoring, including ankle bracelets.

Friday's Homeland Security statement included a warning that it "should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States".

U.S. immigration services have seen a rise in the number of new arrivals in recent weeks, while the latest migrant caravan of up to 9,000 people marching from Honduras is yet to reach the southern border.

In the meantime, the Biden administration has failed to provide simple answers on its plan to protect the border. "As more migrants catch wind of the reimplementation of 'catch-and-release, ' the surge on our border will be unimaginable".