Biden’s project to allow asylum seekers to enter the US
President Joe Biden has consistently criticized how former President Trump approached immigration over the past four years and how his administration substantially restricted humanitarian programs available to the most vulnerable immigrant communities such as asylum seekers and refugees.
One of Biden’s first actions in office was to order his team to create a strategy to dismantle the MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols) policy, which was implemented by the Trump administration in early 2019. This policy, also known as “Remaining in Mexico,” states that asylum seekers must wait in Mexican territory while they receive a response to their immigration cases.
Due to conditions in Central American countries, the Trump administration’s restrictions and the health crisis caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of asylum seekers have had to wait in Mexico’s cities or border territory for several months or, in many cases , more than a year. Asylum seekers under the MPP program do not always have access to basic services and most of them live in temporary shelters, which aggravates the situation and puts their integrity at risk.
A day after President Biden took office, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) suspended new enrollment in the MPP program. Adding to that, at the beginning of February, the Biden administration stated that it would allow the entry of asylum seekers to the US, who are under the MPP policy, still have active cases and currently reside in Mexico, as of February 19 through a resettlement project.
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Hundreds of asylum seekers have already entered the US
On February 19, 25 asylum seekers were able to enter the US for the first time in months. Since that day, the number has gradually increased and authorities and organizations in charge of the project’s logistics hope that, by the end of this week, hundreds of asylum seekers will be able to process their cases at authorized ports of entry.
In fact, 27 asylum seekers had the opportunity to enter the US on Thursday, February 25, and 100 asylum seekers entered the country on Friday, February 26, which means that the number will increase even more during the following weeks.
It is worth mentioning that the resettlement project will benefit between 25,000 and 26,000 asylum seekers who still have active cases, but border agents are still unable to process new asylum applications because the health crisis is still present. Thus, Biden’s plan initially protects only asylum seekers under the MPP policy.
Camp in Matamoros might be empty by the end of this week
Most asylum seekers who have entered the US through Biden’s resettlement plan have been living for months in an informal camp in Matamoros, a Mexican city.
The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) is assisting asylum seekers in the Matamoros camp, helping them process their cases at authorized ports of entry. According to figures presented by the agency, there are approximately 750 people who have been waiting in Matamoros for their opportunity to enter the US, counting the cases processed between Thursday and Friday.
If border officials continue to process asylum cases at the current rate, figures indicate that the Matamoros camp will be empty by the end of this week.
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