Asylum seekers ready in Mexico rattled by delays to US entry | Migration Information
President Joe Biden has promised to reverse the Trump-era program that forced migrants to stay in Mexico pending the U.S. hearings.
The United States has abruptly canceled plans to bring asylum seekers to Texas at two ports of entry, dashing the hopes of hundreds who waited months in Mexico under the Trump-era politics that President Joe Biden promised to relax.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Monday in a statement that “given current operational considerations,” it could no longer say when migrants would be admitted through ports in Brownsville and El Paso, Texas.
The department said last week it would start admitting asylum seekers with active cases at these locations starting Monday and Friday. Texas is recovering from a winter storm that shut down electricity and water supplies across the state.
A DHS spokeswoman did not give a specific reason for the delay, but said the agency will use these locations once international partners have implemented certain measures to ensure safety, health and adequate processing systems.
Biden pledged to reverse the Trump-era program known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which forced more than 65,000 predominantly Central American asylum seekers back across the border pending the hearing of the U.S. immigration court.
Most returned home, but some remained in Mexico in sometimes poor or dangerous conditions, prone to kidnapping and other violence.
Biden’s government has announced that it will initially treat about 25,000 people with active cases, and the United Nations has set up a website for people to register.
“We are really confused because we don’t see any change. We’re just looking for help, ”said Josue Cornejo, a migrant from Honduras who has been stuck in a makeshift camp in Matamoros, Mexico, across the Brownsville border for more than a year.
“You’re not telling us anything,” he said in a video message.
Efforts to reverse the program slowly began Friday at a port of entry in San Ysidro, California, where 50 asylum seekers have been processed so far, according to Democratic representative Nanette Barragan, who was visiting the border.
In the past few days, several hundred migrants have gathered across the border in Tijuana, many of them not in the MPP program but in the hope of being able to enter the USA. Migrants include some families with young children and people setting up tents.
US officials say anyone who wants to enter and doesn’t have an active MPP case will be immediately expelled under COVID-19 era rules.
A UN official said Monday that the organization had registered more than 7,700 migrants with active cases since Friday. The official said asylum seekers in the Matamoros camp could be processed in the coming days.
The panel is also charged with testing migrants in Mexico for COVID-19 before they arrive at U.S. ports of entry, while U.S. nonprofits provide shelters for migrants that can be quarantined upon arrival.
Mark Manly, a UN official in Mexico, told Reuters on Friday that the website was running slowly at times but called it “teething troubles”.