The Biden Administration announced Friday it will prepare to begin returning asylum-seekers to Mexico beginning next month under a Trump policy it previously denounced.
The reinstatement of the policy was not done by the Biden administration, but by a federal judge who granted a request by Republican attorneys general in Texas and Missouri. The judge ordered the administration to reinstate the ‘Remain In Mexico’ program in August. The program required 70,000 non-mexican migrants to stay in the country while awaiting asylum.
The Biden Administration is appealing the judge’s order, but until a decision is rendered it is obligated to follow the judge’s orders. If Mexico agrees to support the policy again, the U.S. Could start enrolling migrants into the program beginning “sometime in November,” a senior Biden Administration said according to CBS News.
“That is conditional on Mexico’s independent decision whether or not to accept those that the United States seeks to enroll in MPP,” the official said, using the policy’s formal name: the Migrant Protection Protocols.
In an effort to show it is complying with the judge’s orders, the Biden Administration has begun hiring contractors to build tent courts in Laredo and Brownsville, Texas. Asylum seekers returned to Mexico will attend hearings on their petition in the courts.
The Administration is also making updates to the Remain In Mexico program to ensure migrants are treated fairly and address concerns raised by the Mexican government. The changes include ensuring all migrants have access to legal counsel, a “general commitment” to complete cases within six months of a migrant being returned and expanding the categories of asylum-seekers who can be considered too vulnerable to be returned to Mexican border cities plagued by crime and violence.
The reinstatement of the “Remain In Mexico” program is a setback for the Biden Administration, which promised to end Trump’s inhumane and ineffective border policies. The situation can also be seen as a setback for Kamala Harris, who Biden put in charge of the situation at the border.
The Trump-era policy was scaled back during the coronavirus pandemic and was suspended on Biden’s first day as president and in June DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas terminated the policy calling it costly and ineffective.