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US unwinds Trump’s policy of waiting in Mexico for asylum seekers

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US unwinds Trump's policy of waiting in Mexico for asylum seekers

 

By releasing a group of asylum-seekers into the United States, ending their long wait in Mexico and unravelling one of the signature immigration policies of former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration moved to restore the asylum system to the way it worked for decades on Friday.

The first of an estimated 25,000 asylum seekers with active cases in the “Remain in Mexico” programme who will now wait for their court hearings in the U.S. instead of south of the border are the 25 people who arrived. U.S. authorities, fearful of a migrant influx, are urging people not to come to the border and to register on a U.N. website. Friday was introduced by the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Before travelling to their final destinations in the U.S. to stay with relatives, friends or sponsors, the new arrivals were taken to San Diego hotels to quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden is fulfilling his promise to end a policy that Trump said was critical to reversing an asylum-seeker surge that peaked in 2019. The programme, officially known as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” altered the way the U.S. government traditionally treated people as they sought protection from violence and persecution. In Mexican border cities, it exposed them to violence and made it difficult to find lawyers and communicate about their cases with the courts.

Questions about Biden’s changes were unanswered, including how Central Americans who returned home would get back to the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s also unclear how long it will take, with the oldest going first, to work through all the cases.

At the border, there was some confusion as well. At the crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, about 100 people gathered Friday, sharing rumours and hoping to glean information about when they would be allowed to enter the United States while their cases are decided by the courts.

Michael Hopkins, chief executive officer of the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, which plays a critical support role, said the U.S. is expected to release 25 individuals a day in San Diego who were forced to wait in Mexico. At the San Diego border crossing, authorities can process up to 300 a day, but Hopkins said it was not known when the target of 25 a day would change.

People were also expected to be allowed into the country in Brownsville, Texas, starting Monday, and in El Paso, Texas, next Friday.

The International Migration Agency, U.N. The migration agency is checking asylum seekers in Mexico for COVID-19 and quarantining those with 10 days of positive results. In San Diego, even asylum-seekers who have tested negative will be quarantined in U.S. hotels for seven days. Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines Centers.

A San Diego Rapid Response Network coalition of nongovernmental groups will provide hotel rooms, arrange transportation, and conduct health screenings, Hopkins said. Jewish Family Service will buy bus or plane tickets if asylum-seekers can’t afford them and winter clothes if needed.

“We’ll make sure they are healthy and in good shape to travel,” Hopkins said in an interview.

About 70,000 asylum-seekers have been part of the Remain in Mexico programme since it started in January 2019. Those whose cases were dismissed or denied are not eligible to return to the country, but U.S. officials have not ruled out some form of relief later.

The Biden administration, which stopped enrolling new arrivals on its first day, said last week that asylum-seekers with active cases would be released in the United States with notices to appear in immigration courts closest to their final destinations. It brought huge relief to those who are eligible, while U.S. and U.N. officials urged against a rush to the border.

Edwin Gomez, who said his wife and 14-year-old son were killed by gangs in El Salvador after he couldn’t pay extortion fees from his auto repair shop, was eager to join his 15-year-old daughter in Austin, Texas. She already won asylum and is living with family.

“Who thought this day would come? ” Gomez, 36, said Wednesday in Tijuana, Mexico, at a border crossing with San Diego. “I never thought it would happen.”

Across the border from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Enda Marisol Rivera of El Salvador and her 10-year-old son have been braving below-freezing temperatures this week, snuggling under piles of donated blankets in their makeshift tent of tarps. Their propane gas stove froze, she said. Despite the added hardship from the Arctic blast that hit Texas and northern Mexico, Rivera was in good spirits.

Rivera and her son are among about 850 migrants living in the tent camp in a sprawling park just south of the Rio Grande in the Mexican city of Matamoros who applied for asylum and were told to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court dates. Many in the camp turned down offers this week to be transferred to city shelters, fearing they would lose their chance at being allowed into the United States if they didn’t stay close to the border.

Rivera was hopeful she would be allowed to come to the United States, where she could live with her sister in Los Angeles as her case wound through immigration court.

“We have faith in God that we will be allowed in,” she said Wednesday. “We have already spent enough time here.”

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