Changes in Mexican asylum laws and modifications to U.S immigration policy combined with exploitation by smugglers are causing an increase in migrants at the southern U.S. border seeking entry, according to reports.
The Biden administration suspended the ‘remain in Mexico’ program allowing some asylum seekers to enter the U.S. and ended a policy preventing unaccompanied minors from coming into the U.S., The Washington Post reported. Mexico implemented laws banning migrant families from returning if facilities are full and smugglers in Guatemala are exploiting people saying the administration is taking a softer approach towards asylum seekers.
“People are incredibly hopeful that this is their chance to get across, but there also is a lot of anxiety and fear that somehow if they do the wrong thing and they’re not at the right place at the right time, they might miss out,” Global Response Management Spokesperson Andrea Leiner said, NBC News reported.
Human smugglers in Guatemala are telling potential clients that “Biden has given the green light,” for them to travel to the U.S, a Central American official who was not authorized to speak on the record told the Post.
The Biden administration promised to end the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), often referred to as ‘remain in Mexico’, The New York Times reported. President Biden deferred new entries into the program though it was not officially ended and thousands of cases remain pending in courts.
At least 25 migrants seeking asylum were admitted into the U.S. and given notices to appear in court as part of the administration’s end to ‘remain in Mexico,’ NBC reported. Around 25 migrants who have pending MPP cases are expected to be allowed entry at San Diego, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Family Service of San Diego Michael Hopkins said, NBC reported.
Migrants seeking asylum near El Paso and Brownsville are expected to be granted entry at the two Texas ports beginning this week, NBC reported. Around 25,000 migrants have pending MPP cases and hundreds of others are appealing court decisions.
Around 70,000 migrants have participated in the ‘remain in Mexico’ program since its inception in January 2019, NBC reported. Thousands whose cases were dismissed or who were denied entry are ineligible to return to the U.S., though they may be able to apply for relief provided by the government at a later time.
U.S. officials are reportedly asking migrants with pending MPP cases not to travel to the border and to instead register with a U.N. website to receive updates on their proceedings, NBC reported.
Children and families can no longer be held in Mexican immigration detention facilities and instead must remain in specific government facilities, according to a Mexican law implemented in November 2020, the Post reported. The Mexican government said it would not accept any returning children or families once those facilities reached capacity.
The new policy has been applied unevenly on the Mexican border, families were returned and left on the streets of Nogales, Mexico, a town bordering Arizona, the Post reported. The Biden administration is reportedly working to increase the capacity of facilities for families in Mexico.
“Mexico is only accepting single adults now, not families or children,” a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak on the record told the Post. Parents and children are being caught and released into the interior of the U.S., primarily in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio sectors where illegal crossings are routinely high.
Family units claiming asylum are being released through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials because the agency is better equipped to test families for COVID-19 and track them as their claims go through courts, The Post reported.