Thursday, December 2, 2021

US plans to reinstate ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy next month

SAN DIEGO (AP) – The Biden administration said it plans to reinstate Trump-era border policy next month to allow asylum seekers to wait in Mexico to be heard in US immigration court, a judge said. compliance of orders.

It hinges on approval from the Mexican government, which has raised concerns that US officials are working to address, the Justice Department said in a court filing late Thursday. Mexico wants cases to be concluded typically within six months and ensure that asylum seekers have timely and accurate information about hearing dates and times and better access to legal counsel.

Mexico also wants exemptions for “particularly vulnerable populations” and better coordination on the locations and times of day that asylum seekers are returned to Mexico.

About 70,000 asylum seekers are subject to a “stay in Mexico” policy, officially known as the “Migrant Protection Protocol,” introduced by President Donald Trump in January 2019 and Biden on his first day in office. was suspended. A federal judge sided with the states of Texas and Missouri in August by ordering the Biden administration to reinstate the policy “in good faith.” Court filings say it should take effect around mid-November.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kaxmaric in Amarillo, Texas, a Trump appointee, left open the possibility that the administration might try again to end the policy, and officials say they’ll release a plan soon. He is hopeful that he will survive legal scrutiny.

US Homeland Security Alejandro Meyerkas scrapped the policy in June after an internal review, saying it achieved “mixed effectiveness”.

Illegal border crossings fell sharply after Mexico, in the face of Trump’s threat of higher tariffs, became familiar with the policy’s rapid expansion in 2019. Asylum seekers have been subjected to major violence while waiting in Mexico and face many legal barriers, such as access to lawyers and case information.

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According to court filings, the administration will rebuild tent courts in the Texas border cities of Laredo and Brownsville at a monthly cost of $24.6 million, and is working to ensure the backlog system with 1.4 million cases has capacity.

Mexico’s Department of Foreign Relations said on Thursday it is concerned that asylum seekers are getting fair treatment in court, have access to legal counsel and are safe under the policy.

Mexico said it has also questioned another US policy of evacuating migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum. Trump invoked those powers, known as Title 42 authorizations, in March 2020 on the basis of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The Biden administration has strongly defended special powers.

“Mexico will continue discussions with the US executive branch aimed at achieving a safe, orderly and regulated regional migration policy,” the State Department said.

US officials say the renewed “Stay in Mexico” policy will apply to those who do not qualify for Title 42 authorization. The policy was last used largely on people from Spanish-speaking countries, but officials say eligible nationalities have not been determined.

The broad outline of the restored policy comes as the Biden administration has not yet developed the “humanitarian” asylum system that the president promised during his campaign after quickly ending many of Trump’s policies. Illegal border crossings under Biden’s watch have increased, with record numbers of unaccompanied children and the arrival of nearly 15,000 mostly Haitian immigrants in September at a camp in Del Rio, Texas.

Homeland Security said in a statement that it is “committed to building a safe, orderly and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”

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Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed.

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