On February 11, 2021, the Biden Administration announced the beginning of their plan to allow tens of thousands of asylum-seekers currently in Mexico to enter the United States. Approximately 25,000 asylum-seekers have been waiting for their immigration hearings in Mexico due to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, established by the Trump administration. Also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the MPP was introduced in January of 2019, forcing asylum-seekers arriving at the southern border to live in dangerous border cities while their asylum claims were pending.
The first of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers will be allowed entry into the United States beginning February 19, 2021. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hopes to process 300 individuals at two separate border crossings each per day. The Biden Administration has not named the locations of these border crossings in order to avoid immigrants rushing to these locations.
Biden’s new plan aims to undo the Trump policy that saw almost 70,000 asylum-seekers enrolled in the MPP program. This program was designed to deter asylum-seekers to the United States, one of the Trump Administration’s main focuses. According to the Associated Press, “the policy also exposed people to violence in Mexican border cities and made it extremely difficult for them to find lawyers and communicate with courts about their cases.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hearings for asylum-seekers remaining in Mexico have been suspended since June of 2020. Asylum-seekers will be tested for COVID-19 before entering the United States. Unfortunately, this new plan does not include relief for asylum-seekers whose cases were already dismissed or denied. Immigration advocates are urging the Biden Administration to address this issue as many cases were denied due to communication problems that caused them to miss their hearings.
Overall, this announcement by the Biden Administration is a positive step that will ensure due process for more asylum-seekers and the ability to have their cases properly heard. Since his inauguration, President Biden has continued to fulfill his promise to begin reforming the immigration system and undoing the damage done by the Trump Administration over the last four years.