Starting on Wednesday, the Biden administration will reportedly permit at least 10,000 asylum seekers whose previous claims were denied or dismissed to register to enter the United States.
Michele Klein Solomon, the International Organization for Migration’s director for North America, Central America and the Caribbean, told The Associated Press that at least 10,000 migrants whose claims of asylum were denied by the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy — for failing to appear in court will start to register, ABC 11 reported.
“The estimate seems low. There are nearly 7,000 asylum-seekers whose cases were dismissed — the vast majority in San Diego – and more than 32,000 whose cases were denied, mostly in Texas, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse,” ABC 11 noted, adding, “In all, about 70,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico under the policy introduced in San Diego in January 2019 and expanded across the border after then-President Donald Trump threatened Mexico with higher tariffs if it didn’t do more to reverse a major spike in border crossings.”
In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 180,000 encounters with migrants on the southern border, which ABC points out is the most recorded since March of the previous year. More than 250,000 new asylum claims were made last year.
In early 2020, Heather Swift, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, stated, “MPP is one of the most important and effective tools we have implemented to confront the crisis on the border and we will continue to strengthen and expand.”
In March 2020, the Heritage Foundation wrote of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy:
Once word got out about this new policy, the number of illegal crossings plummeted. With the cooperation of the Mexican government, more than 60,000 illegal immigrants were returned to Mexico over a 13-month period. New immigration courts at key crossing points like Laredo, Texas, drastically reduced the time needed to process asylum claims, so that refugees with legitimate asylum claims had their cases heard much faster.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the MPP “allowed us to take control of the crisis” at the border that was overwhelming the Border Patrol and our immigration capabilities.
The Biden administration put a temporary hold on MPP the day Biden was inaugurated. On June 1, 2021, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced he was ending the policy, writing in a memo:
I have determined that MPP does not adequately or sustainably enhance border management in such a way as to justify the program’s extensive operational burdens and other shortfalls. Over the course of the program, border encounters increased during certain periods and decreased during others.
Based on Department policy documents, DHS originally intended the program to more quickly adjudicate legitimate asylum claims and clear asylum backlogs. It is certainly true that some removal proceedings conducted pursuant to MPP were completed more expeditiously than is typical for non-detained cases, but this came with certain significant drawbacks that are cause for concern. The focus on speed was not always matched with sufficient efforts to ensure that conditions in Mexico enabled migrants to attend their immigration proceedings.
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