POLITICS

Biden Administration To Allow 25,000 Asylum-Seekers Into US

Feb 12, 2021, 8:21 AM
FILE: A caravan of thousands of Central Americans travel toward the United States in 2018. (Photo b...
FILE: A caravan of thousands of Central Americans travel toward the United States in 2018. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday announced plans for tens of thousands of asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico for their next immigration court hearings to be allowed into the United States while their cases proceed.

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.

Biden is quickly making good on a campaign promise to end the policy, which the Trump administration said was critical to reversing a surge of asylum-seekers that peaked in 2019. But the policy also exposed people to violence in Mexican border cities and made it extremely difficult for them to find lawyers and communicate with courts about their cases.

“As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values.”

Homeland Security said the move “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.” Administration officials have said repeatedly that the vast majority of people who cross the border illegally are quickly expelled under a public health order in place since the pandemic struck in March, but releases of some asylum-seeking families in Texas and California has worked against that messaging.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that she was concerned that limited releases in the U.S. may encourage others to cross illegally because “we don’t want people to put themselves in danger at a time where it is not the right time to come, because we have not had time to put in place a humane and moral system and process.”

Hearings for people enrolled in “Remain in Mexico” have been suspended since June due to the pandemic. Getting word out on when to report to the border for release in the United States may prove a daunting job.

Homeland Security said it would soon announce a “virtual registration process” available online and by phone for people to learn where and when they should report. It urged asylum-seekers not to report to the border unless instructed.

Asylum-seekers will be tested for COVID-19 before entering the U.S.

The announcement provides no relief to people whose cases were dismissed or denied, though administration officials did not rule out additional measures. Advocates argue that communication problems, including lack of working addresses in Mexico, caused some to miss hearings and lose their cases as a result.

More people are getting stopped crossing the border illegally since Biden took office.

Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of the Border Patrol, said Tuesday that more than 3,000 people had been stopped crossing the border illegally in each of the previous 10 days, compared to a daily average of 2,426 in January.

About 50 to 80 adults and children have been arriving daily since Jan. 27 at Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, which temporarily houses people released by the Border Patrol, said Sister Norma Pimentel, the group’s executive director. The charity tests for COVID-19 and sends anyone who tests positive to a hotel for isolation.

Jewish Family Service of San Diego housed 191 asylum-seekers the first 10 days of February after the were released by U.S. authorities, up from 144 in January and 54 in December, said Eitan Peled, the group’s border services advocate. They are quarantined in hotels for 10 days.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Politics

HOV lanes for pregnant women...
Katija Stjepovic

House passes bill allowing pregnant women to drive solo in HOV lanes

Pregnant women may soon be allowed to drive solo in HOV lanes after a bill allowing just that passed in the Utah House of Representatives Friday.
2 days ago
Samantha Hansen poses for a portrait at her home in Herriman, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Hansen, a ...
KSL TV

Utah sisters disagree passionately about new abortion bill

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep Kera Birkeland, a Republican representing Morgan, has introduced HB-297 that she claims addresses the issues of abortion access and services for rape victims in Utah the Deseret News reported Friday. Read the full story here. Her sister, Samantha Hansen, is a rape survivor. She says she will fight the bill […]
2 days ago
FILE: The Utah State Capitol (Jason Olson, Deseret News Archives)...
Shelby Lofton

Utah lawmakers introduce school safety bills

Lawmakers have unveiled a number of school safety bills after hearing concerns from their constituents.
3 days ago
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves her office at the Longworth House Office Building on February 02...
Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro

House GOP votes to oust Democrat Omar from major committee

House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
3 days ago
Nick Lobos cleans his 1950 Ford during the Rumble in the Park car show in Salt Lake City on June 13...
Carter Williams

Utah House passes moratorium on personalized license plates for 2nd straight year

Utah is on the verge of temporarily pausing its personalized license plate program once again.
3 days ago
Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret N...
Dan Rascon

New bill would add state auditor to oversee funding of school voucher program

A controversial school voucher bill that passed the House and Senate, and was signed by the governor, is expected to get a new set of eyes to help follow the money trail.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Biden Administration To Allow 25,000 Asylum-Seekers Into US