President Joe Biden continues rapidly dismantling former President Donald Trump’s effort to secure the U.S. border with Mexico, announcing on Friday he will reverse Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy for migrants seeking refugee status and will admit at least 25,000 people into the country.
And not only will thousands of migrants be allowed into the interior of the country, but they will be released into American communities to await legal proceedings.
Biden’s policy also flies in the face of border detention policy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that calls for the swift return of migrants to their home country to protect Americans from further exposure to the coronavirus.
“Beginning on February 19 the Department of Homeland security will take steps to begin processing individuals who under the previous administration, had been forced to remain in Mexico,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
ABC7 News reported on the development:
The first of an estimated 25,000 asylum-seekers in Mexico with active cases will be allowed in the United States on Feb. 19, authorities said. They plan to start slowly with two border crossings each processing up to 300 people a day and a third crossing taking fewer. Administration officials declined to name them out of fear they may encourage a rush of people to those locations.
The move is a major step toward dismantling one of former President Donald Trump’s most consequential policies to deter asylum-seekers from coming to the U.S. About 70,000 asylum-seekers were enrolled in “Remain in Mexico,” officially called “Migrant Protection Protocols,” since it was introduced in January 2019.
On Biden’s first day in office, the Homeland Security Department suspended the policy for new arrivals. Since then, some asylum-seekers picked up at the border have been released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court.
“As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas” said in the ABC7 News report. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values.”
But, according to ABC7 News, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said the move “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.”
DHS has also said it is setting up a “virtual registration process” through which people can apply for asylum online or by phone.
ABC7 News reported that from the start of the pandemic in March, “administration officials have said repeatedly that the vast majority of people who cross the border illegally are quickly expelled under a public health order.” Nonetheless, releases of some families in California and Texas seeking asylum have “worked against that messaging.”
Media reports have said migrants will be tested for the coronavirus in Mexico before entering the U.S.
Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, said this week that more than 3,000 people had been stopped crossing the border illegally in each of the previous ten days, compared to an average of 2,426 people crossing illegally during the entire month of January.
ABCNews 7 said migrants have been arriving at Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and at Jewish Family Service of San Diego in recent days.
Both locations report coronavirus testing and stated that sick migrants would be quarantining in local hotels.
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