US to Reinstate Remain in Mexico Policy10/15 05:59
The Biden administration said it plans to reinstate a Trump-era border
policy next month to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S.
immigration court, complying with a judge's order.
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Biden administration said it plans to reinstate a
Trump-era border policy next month to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for
hearings in U.S. immigration court, complying with a judge's order.
It hinges on approval of the Mexican government, which has raised concerns
that U.S. officials are working to address, the Justice Department said in a
court filing late Thursday. Mexico wants cases to generally conclude 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 locations and times of day that asylum-seekers are
returned to Mexico.
About 70,000 asylum-seekers have been subject to the "Remain in Mexico"
policy, known officially as "Migrant Protection Protocols," which President
Donald Trump introduced in January 2019 and Biden suspended on his first day in
office. A federal judge sided with the states of Texas and Missouri by ordering
the Biden administration in August to reinstate the policy "in good faith." The
court filing says it should be in effect around mid-November.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, a Trump appointee,
left open the possibility that the administration could try again to end the
policy, and officials say they will release a plan soon that they hope will
survive legal scrutiny.
U.S. Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas ended the policy in June after an
internal review, saying it achieved "mixed effectiveness."
Illegal border crossings fell sharply after Mexico, facing Trump's threat of
higher tariffs, acquiesced in 2019 to the policy's rapid expansion.
Asylum-seekers were victims of major violence while waiting in Mexico and faced
a slew of legal obstacles, such as access to attorneys and case information.
The administration will rebuild tent courts in Texas border cities of Laredo
and Brownsville at a monthly cost of $24.6 million to operate, according to the
court filing, and is working to ensure there is capacity in a system that is
backlogged with 1.4 million cases.
Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said Thursday that it has concerns
about asylum-seekers getting fair treatment in court under the policy, having
access to legal counsel and being safe.
Mexico said it also has raised questions about another U.S. policy to expel
migrants without a chance to seek asylum. Trump invoked those powers, known as
Title 42 authority, in March 2020 on grounds of preventing spread of the
coronavirus. The Biden administration has strongly defended the special powers.
"Mexico will continue discussion with the U.S. executive branch, with the
aim of achieving a regional migration policy that is safe, orderly and
regulated," the Foreign Relations Department said.
U.S. officials say the renewed "Remain in Mexico" policy will be applied to
people who don't qualify for Title 42 authority. The policy was last used
largely on people from Spanish-speaking countries but officials say eligible
nationalities have not been determined.
Broad outlines of the reinstated policy come as the Biden administration has
yet to develop the "humane" asylum system that the president promised during
his campaign after quickly dismantling many Trump policies. Illegal border
crossings have soared under Biden's watch, with record numbers of unaccompanied
children and, in September, the arrival of about 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants
at a camp in Del Rio, Texas.
Homeland Security said in a statement that it "remains committed to building
a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and