Asylum-seekers camp outside US port of entry
Dozens of asylum seekers are now camping outside the San Ysidro port of entry, waiting for the Biden administration to give them a chance to apply for international protection in the US.
In Tijuana’s plaza, just outside the port of entry, there used to be hundreds of asylum seekers before the arrival of the global Coronavirus pandemic, when then-US President Donald Trump closed the borders and authorized ports of entry were closed for a considerable period of time. This is the first time, after the massive outbreak of Coronavirus, that Tijuana’s plaza, called Chaparral Plaza, has the presence of asylum seekers again.
In fact, on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, there were already more than 50 tents in Tijuana’s plaza, where Asylum seekers hope the new administration of the US will lift existing restrictions and they can soon enter the country. They began arriving at the San Ysidro port of entry after the Biden administration suspended the MPP policy.
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The Biden administration and the MPP policy
Previously, asylum seekers had the opportunity to reside within the US while receiving a response to their immigration cases, which can take several months. During this period of time, they also had the possibility to apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and access other social benefits.
However, in early 2019, trying to reduce the number of asylum seekers in the US, the Trump administration signed an agreement with Mexico called MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol), also known as “Remain in Mexico .” As the name implies, this policy forced thousands of asylum seekers to remain in Mexican territory while they received a response to their immigration applications.
When President Joe Biden launched his campaign, he promised to remove restrictive policies like MPP and allow asylum seekers to enter the US. Initially, the Biden administration suspended new enrollments to the MPP program and stated that it would unveil a plan to resettle asylum seekers under this policy.
On February 12, 2021, the Biden administration unveiled a resettlement plan that would benefit more than 25,000 asylum seekers, who still have active cases, a court hearing scheduled in the US, and currently reside in Mexico under the MPP policy.
Biden’s plan went into effect on Friday, February 19, and several ports of entry will be able to process up to 300 asylum cases on a daily basis . However, the Biden administration stated that restrictions related to the health emergency are still in effect and authorized ports of entry will not process new asylum applications and previously rejected applications until further notice.
As a result, many immigrants now waiting in front of the San Ysidro port of entry are still unable to apply for political asylum in the US.
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