The United States is shown through a section of the new border wall between Mexico and the U.S. near San Diego, California, U.S., February 2, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Some asylum-seekers who were required to remain in Mexico under a Trump-era program can now enter the U.S. while completing their immigration requirements.

Beginning Feb. 19, the Department of Homeland Security will let 600 people per day into the U.S. through two ports, with a third processing fewer. A total of 25,000 people with active asylum cases were affected by the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

All asylum-seekers must test negative for the coronavirus before entering the U.S. Nonprofits and individual groups will work with the U.S. government to prioritize migrants who were stranded in Mexico the longest, as well as those who are most vulnerable. 

Former President Donald Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocol, or MPP, began in January 2019. Critics called it inhumane as Central Americans often stayed in squalid camps and became easy targets for rapists and robbers while some waited more than a year in Mexico to make their case for asylum in a U.S. court.

Asylum-seekers will be monitored after crossing the border. No court proceedings will occur at the border. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urged people to wait and allow the process to work in an orderly, safe and efficient manner.

John Katko (R-N.Y.) a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said word spreading about the new policy will lead to an “unimaginable” surge of asylum-seekers at the border. A letter signed by 25 Republicans similarly expressed concern with the administration’s plans to “weaken screening and vetting for foreign nationals.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

DHS will admit 25,000 migrants waiting in Mexico – Washington Times – 2/12/2021
The department also issued a caution, in English and Spanish, to other would-be migrants that the move “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.” Border Patrol agents say migrants already have gotten that impression from the more lenient posture of this administration, pointing to signs of a new Biden surge at the border.  

Biden administration to begin allowing asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico to enter U.S. – Axios – 2/12/2021
The MPP program was implemented in early 2019, when border crossings topped 100,000 per month. Rights groups and many Democrats criticized the policy, saying it forced asylum seekers into dangerous conditions. Biden has already stopped new enrollments in the MPP program.

Migrants in “remain in Mexico” program will soon be allowed to enter the United States, federal agency says – The Texas Tribune – 2/12/2021
Biden’s moves have sounded alarm bells among Texas Republicans, who say Biden’s policies so far will lure more migrants north and lay the groundwork for another border crisis. U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, sent a letter to Biden Tuesday co-signed by 50 colleagues warning his policies are sending the wrong message.

Biden administration to start processing asylum seekers in California forced by Trump to ‘Remain in Mexico’ – Los Angeles Times – 2/11/2021
In recent days [Ruben Garcia, executive director of the nonprofit Annunciation House,] said he has been trying to reassure migrants who have active MPP cases, many of whom have grown frustrated while waiting at shelters in Mexico for the Biden administration to announce its plans. “There’s still hurdles, but it’s excellent that they’re going to let the families in,” he said, and that migrants joining relatives in the United States can have their asylum cases heard in nearby courts, rather than at the border.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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