On Friday, the United States government released 25 asylum seekers in the country with notices to appear in court, marking a milestone in the outcome of a key Donald Trump immigration policy.
The asylum seekers were enrolled in Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program, which forced people seeking protection in the United States to wait south of the border until their court hearings. The tests came back negative for Covid-19 in Mexico and were taken to San Diego hotels for quarantine before taking a plane or bus to their final destinations in the United States, said Michael Hopkins, executive director of Jewish Family Service of San Diego. , which is playing a critical supporting role.
Hopkins said the United States is expected to release 25 people enrolled in the Stay in Mexico program per day in San Diego. Authorities can process up to 300 asylum seekers per day at the San Diego border crossing, but Hopkins said it was not known when the target would change to 25 per day.
People are also expected to enter the country beginning Monday in Brownsville, Texas, and next Friday in El Paso, Texas.
Edwin Gómez, who said his wife and 14-year-old son had been killed by gangs in El Salvador after he was unable to pay extortion fees from his auto repair shop, was eager to join his 15-year-old daughter. in Austin. Texas. She has already won asylum and lives with her family.
“Who thought this day would come?” Gomez, 36, said Wednesday in Tijuana, Mexico, at a border crossing with San Diego. “I never thought it would happen.”
Friday’s arrivals are the first of an estimated 25,000 people with active cases in the Remain in Mexico program and several hundred who are appealing decisions. U.S. officials are warning people not to come to the U.S.-Mexico border and to register at a website which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will launch early next week.
While the arrivals are beginning to return the asylum system to the way it worked for decades, there are unanswered questions, including how Central Americans who returned home will return to the US-Mexico border. It is also unclear how long it will take to work with all the cases, with the oldest being the first.
Joe Biden is quickly fulfilling a campaign promise to end the policy officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, which Trump said was critical to reversing the surge in asylum seekers that peaked in 2019. People to violence in Mexican border cities and succeeded find it extremely difficult to find attorneys and communicate with the courts about their cases.
About 70,000 asylum seekers have been part of the program since it began in January 2019. Asylum seekers whose cases were dismissed or denied are not eligible to return to the country, but US officials have not ruled out some sort of relief later on.
The Biden administration, which stopped registering newcomers on their first day, said last week that asylum seekers with active cases would be released to the United States with notices to appear in immigration courts closest to their final destinations. . It brought great relief to those who are eligible, while US and UN officials urged not to rush to the border.
Non-governmental organizations will play a crucial role in arranging temporary accommodation and transportation once asylum seekers enter the US.
“This problem took years to develop and they are trying to find solutions, but they are dealing with things that come up in real time,” said Andrea Leiner, a spokesperson for Global Response Management, which has been providing medical care at the camp. in Matamoros. “I think we have to give a bit of patience and leeway to figure this out, as the stakeholders involved put plans in place to start doing this safely and effectively.”
But he said everyone was nervous too, especially the asylum seekers.
“People are incredibly hopeful that this is their chance to communicate, but there is also a lot of anxiety and fear that somehow if they do the wrong thing and they are not in the right place at the right time, they could get lost,” he said. Leiner.
Across the border from Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, El Salvador’s Enda Marisol Rivera and her 10-year-old son have been facing freezing temperatures this week, huddled under piles of donated blankets in their makeshift tarp tent. His propane gas stove had frozen, he said. Despite the added difficulties of the Arctic explosion that hit Texas and northern Mexico, Rivera was in good spirits and watched the news closely.
Rivera and her son are among roughly 1,000 migrants living in the tent camp in a sprawling park south of the Rio Grande in the Mexican city of Matamoros. About 850 of them have applied for asylum and were told to wait in Mexico for their court dates. Many in the camp rejected offers this week to be transferred to city shelters, fearing they would lose the opportunity to enter the United States if they did not stay close to the border. Some have been waiting for more than two years.
Rivera was hopeful that she would be allowed to come to the United States, where she could live with her sister in Los Angeles while her case went through immigration court.
“We have faith in God that we will be allowed in,” he said Wednesday. “We have spent enough time here.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism