United Nations agencies have begun efforts to return asylum seekers currently residing in Mexico under the Trump Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) back to U.S. soil. An estimated 25,000 asylum seekers are eligible for transfer under President Joe Biden’s cancellation of the MPP. The UN received 12,000 applications over a three-day period beginning February 19.
According a United Nations press release, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are conducting in-person registration and are performing COVID-19 tests.
Other platforms to assist the asylum seekers in their return to the United States will include email, in-person, social media, and telephone hotlines.
Many of the asylum seekers in the MPP program moved away from the immediate border area to other parts of Mexico. Others simply returned to their home country. The IOM will coordinate and provide transportation for those asylum seekers to the United States border as well.
At the border, UN agencies reported an in-person effort to register approximately 750 in Matamoros at a makeshift camp. The population of the informal camp across the border from Brownsville, Texas, once offered refuge to thousands.
Law enforcement sources confirmed that Border Patrol personnel are being re-directed from patrol routes to process the re-entry of former MPP seekers. The program has yet to meet the original goal of 300 asylum applicant returns per day, according to sources.
The effort to accommodate the asylum seekers threatens to further stretch community resources along the border.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas Sector.