CBP Chief: Biden Admin Plans to Bring Back ‘Remain in Mexico’ Migrants Removed ‘In Absentia’

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The Biden administration is offering another bite at the apple for some of the migrants deported under President Donald Trump, the acting chief of the U.S. border patrol indicated Wednesday.

While testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on National Security Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said invites to return to America are being offered to migrants who had their asylum cases closed after missing their court hearing in the United States while enrolled in the “Remain in Mexico” program ended by President Joe Biden.

Under the Trump-era program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), U.S. border authorities returned migrants to Mexico to wait for their asylum hearings.

Many migrants who enrolled in MPP, including those who went home, were deported “in absentia” when they missed their hearing.

Biden’s offer means he may provide multi-year work permits — and U.S. jobs — to deported economic migrants who would likely have lost their asylum cases and will likely not get their next court dates for several years as a result of the court backlog fueled by the ongoing migrant surge.

“Of the 68,000 asylum cases processed  …. 28,000 were closed for the same reason: Because asylum seekers didn’t present themselves,” the Washington Post reported April 24, adding:

Some of the asylum seekers processed under MPP decided to return to their countries of origin rather than waiting in northern Mexico. Others crossed the border illegally and are now living in the United States as undocumented immigrants. Because their asylum cases were closed, they have no clear path to legal status.

However, the Biden administration is now working on re-opening those cases and processing into the United States those migrants who were “removed in absentia” while enrolled in the “Remain in Mexico” program, giving them another shot at legal status, Miller indicated.

According to the CBP chief, the Biden administration, as of May 6, had already released into the U.S. interior over 10,000 migrants previously enrolled in MPP who had pending immigration court proceedings.

Breitbart News reported the Biden administration is offering those migrants work permits to take American jobs.

Miller declared in his written testimony:

As of May 6, 2021, more than 10,000 of these [Remain in Mexico] individuals have been processed into the U.S. as part of the administration’s commitment to a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.

This process ideally [emphasis added] includes preregistration with CBP facilitated through international and non-governmental organizations, and COVID [Chinese coronavirus] testing while in Mexico, as well as non-governmental organizations helping individuals in the United States, meet their immigration court obligations in the United States.

Analysts found less than one percent of the more than 71,000 asylum cases under “Remain in Mexico” involved a legitimate asylum claim as of February.

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ended the Remain in Mexico program on January 21, a day after his inauguration.

On February 19, CBP, a component of DHS, began processing migrants previously enrolled in the program into America, namely those with pending court hearings, Miller testified Wednesday, adding that the Biden administration is now moving to process into the U.S. “Remain in Mexico” migrants with closed cases.

During the hearing, Rep. David Price (D-NC) condemned the Trump administration program and asked Miller about “challenges” CBP faces in “remedying” the policy.

“As far as challenges, I know we’re looking at some of the … [MPP] population, what we call the yellow population, that was removed in absentia,” the CBP chief replied.

He noted CBP is working with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, also a DHS component, to re-open the “yellow population” cases.

Once CBP re-opens the cases, the agency will begin trying to process the “Remain in Mexico” migrants “removed in absentia” into the United States, Miller proclaimed.

In describing the admission process for “Remain in Mexico” migrants while responding to Price’s question, Miller explained:

[CBP has been] working with [its] partners in Mexico. The international organizations were able to collect advanced information through our CBP One [Mobile] App and really vet those individuals in advance of arrival and schedule arrival times … to ensure that we’re processing expeditiously but to ensure that we’re also continuing to uphold border security and national security at the same time.

Mexico housed most of the returned migrants awaiting asylum hearings in camps near the border, including unsafe and overcrowded facilities.

When questioning Miller, Congressman Price blasted the Trump-era program, noting that enrollees faced dangerous situations in Mexico.

“They had, of course, trouble getting legal counsel,” the Democrat lawmaker added. “They often had their cases closed in absentia because they were simply unable to return for their court hearings or even learn when those hearings were occurring in any kind of reliable way.”

 

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