Tens of thousands of asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico while their claims were being processed in the United States will be allowed into America, as President Joe Biden seeks to undo some of Donald Trump’s strict immigration controls.
The first of an estimated 25,000 asylum seekers with active cases will be allowed into the country on February 19, US authorities said on Friday. They plan to start slowly with two border crossings, each processing up to 300 people a day, and a third crossing taking fewer.
It is part of President Biden’s instructions to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end the controversial “Remain in Mexico” program put in place by his predecessor Donald Trump.
That policy saw tens of thousands of non-Mexican asylum seekers – mostly from Central America – sent back over the border pending the outcome of their asylum applications, creating a humanitarian crisis in the area that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Beginning on February 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin phase one of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border,” the agency announced in a statement.
But they stressed that the move “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.
All asylum seekers will be tested for coronavirus before entering the US and many will stay in temporary housing, shelters or local hotels.
Around 70,000 people were enrolled in the “Remain in Mexico” programme since it was introduced in January 2019 according to the NGO American Immigration Council.
DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas, who is the first Latino and the first immigrant to head the department, said that Washington is committed to “rebuilding a safe, orderly and humane immigration system.”
“This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values,” he added.
Mr Trump took a hard-line approach to fighting illegal immigration, making it one of the hallmarks of his presidency. Policies included efforts to build a border wall and separating children from thousands of migrant families.
After President Biden took office on January 20, his administration announced that it would reverse the most controversial measures and created a task force to reunite families that remain separated, calling it a “national shame”.
On the day the 78-year-old was inaugurated, the DHS announced the suspension of new registrations in the “Remain in Mexico” program and asked all those enrolled to stay where they are while waiting to be informed about their cases.
But it has still not stopped tens of thousands of people attempting to illegally cross the border.
Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of the Border Patrol, said on Tuesday that more than 3,000 people had been stopped crossing the border illegally in each of the previous 10 days, compared to a daily average of 2,426 in January.
Those waiting “should not approach the border until instructed to do so,” officials said.
Source: Telegraph UK
Mexico Daily Post