The United States received this Friday a small group of immigrants who were waiting in Mexico to their asylum process in the neighboring country, the first to reach the United States after the Government of President Joe Biden announced the dismantling of one of the star immigration measures of its predecessor Donald Trump.
A group of 25 people affected by the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as ‘Stay in Mexico’, established by Trump, was the first to cross this Friday through the San Ysidro port of entry , in California, aboard a bus.
The leader Alex Mensing, of the Pueblo Sin Fronteras organization, explained to Efe that these people were chosen by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) because of their “high vulnerability“After crossing the border, the immigrants, who had previously been registered by organizations in Mexico, were taken to the office section of the border post to process their entry onto US soil.
Virtual registry start
In parallel, this Friday began a virtual registration process of the people registered in the program and who are waiting in Mexico for their appointments with US immigration judges. Attention to the border points in Brownsville and El Paso, both in Texas, is expected to expand next week.
This occurs two years after Trump to close doors to asylum seekers who appeared at the border posts with Mexico and forced them to wait in the southern neighbor for their immigration files to be resolved.
With Trump out of the White House, Biden promised to address the cases of those migrants who were in limbo and on Thursday the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, in English) indicated in a statement that as of this Friday it would march “phase one of an effort to process people safely and efficiently at the border.” The “phase one” of the plan is aimed at some 25,000 people with “open cases” and who remain in Mexican territory.
Public health, priority
Due to the pandemic, the US authorities have paid special attention to complying with public health regulations, particularly in the use of masks “at all times” and to ensure physical distancing. “The United States is providing funding to international partner organizations that have experience conducting medical assessments of migrant populations around the world to assist individuals prior to their arrival at ports of entry,” the State Department detailed Thursday in a statement.
Protection measures include antigen tests, temperature controls and health questionnaires, as well as the commitment by the organizations to provide immigrants with a “proof of a negative result in the covid-19 test or of having completed isolation” or that they have completed the quarantine period, in the case that they have tested positive.
A crisis at the border
‘Stay in Mexico’ began to be applied on January 29, 2019 in the heat of what Trump described as a “Crisis” at the border due to entry to US soil from Mexico of thousands of undocumented people. According to a DHS document, “at the height of the crisis, in May 2019, there were more than 4,800 undocumented aliens attempting to cross the border into the United States daily.”
On his first day in the White House, Biden suspended enrollment in that program, a decision that took effect on January 21. The DHS, now led by Cuban-American Alejandro Mayorkas, has pointed out that with the arrival of the Biden Administration there has been “no change in the application of the law at the borders,” which remain closed to non-essential travel due to to the pandemic. And it has clarified that the decision on the MPP “should not be construed as an opportunity for individuals to migrate irregularly to the United States“.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.