Biden Ends Trump’s Remain In Mexico Asylum Policy

The Biden administration has discontinued a Trump policy that forced migrants who sought asylum at U.S. border crossings to remain in Mexico for months until their day in court.

Starting Thursday, asylum-seekers arriving anywhere along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border will not be turned around, the government announced, as was policy under the Department of Homeland Security’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, better known as “remain in Mexico.”

The program was implemented in January 2019, and since then, 67,000 people have been enrolled. Migrants who presented themselves to federal law enforcement officers at border crossings and who were arrested for sneaking over the border are both returned to Mexico if they seek asylum during the process.

The program was rolled out as a growing number of migrant families were arriving at the southern border and attempts to “meter” how many people could apply for asylum at ports of entry per day and illegal crossings were dramatically rising. Amid the surge of people, the government was unable to hear and decide claims in the 20-day limit that it is allowed to detain families in immigration custody, forcing them to release people into the United States.

Incoming Biden officials revealed they planned to stop accepting new applications and to finish deciding the tens of thousands of existing claims.

Further complicating the asylum process, the Trump administration suspended asylum hearings indefinitely

House Democrats who toured a massive outdoor camp across the border from Brownsville, Texas, last January lamented the slumlike conditions in the tent city, including insufficient clean water, improper sanitation systems, and a lack of medical care. Rep. Nanette Barragan of California took a picture of a woman doing laundry in a dirty river. DeFazio said medical staff at the camp described it as being “so bad, they need the same type of support and infrastructure that is given to the formal refugee camps in the Middle East.”

“What you see in terms of people sleeping on the ground and living in tents or under tarps is something that you would see in a refugee camp in Syria, and it’s right across the border, and our country has created the circumstances to make this happen,” Rep. Linda Sanchez of California, the former Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairwoman, said in a video post.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus-led tour of nearly 20 members started in the South Texas town of Brownsville. Lawmakers walked over a bridge that stretches over the Rio Grande to Matamoros, a border town in Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, to see how asylum-seekers have been affected.

The 2019 surge of people at the border included 475,000 migrants who arrived with a family member. The overwhelming number of daily arrests forced authorities to release 375,000 people directly into the country, most of whom did not claim asylum.

Since the spring, the Border Patrol has immediately returned illegal immigrants to Mexico or their home countries instead of taking people into custody and allowing them due process. The initiative, known as Title 42, was implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in small, crowded holding facilities on the border.

Then-acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan warned in June that CBP may see an increase in migrants fleeing their home countries in Mexico and Central America for the U.S. due to economic peril prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters. He also claimed that people were traveling to the southern border in hopes of being admitted before Biden took office.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued over the “remain in Mexico” program, said Wednesday’s move was a “very welcome first step.”

“The Biden administration needs to keep going to end this illegal policy and remedy the intolerable situation of people currently in the program,” Judy Rabinovitz, ACLU attorney and lead counsel in the challenge, said in a statement. “That means allowing them to pursue their cases in the United States, in safety and without further trauma, detention, delay, or coercion.”

FILE – In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, migrants who are applying for asylum in the United States go through a processing area at a new tent courtroom at the Migration Protection Protocols Immigration Hearing Facility, in Laredo, Texas. In the latest twist for a signature Trump administration immigration policy, a federal appeals court said it is halting a policy next week to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for court hearings in the United States. But the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Wednesday, March 4, 2020, that it would only block the “Remain in Mexico” policy in Arizona and California, the two border states where its authority extends. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Eric Gay/AP

Author: Anna Giaritelli

Source: Washington Examiner: Biden ends Trump ‘remain in Mexico’ asylum policy

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