The Department of Homeland Security announced two significant changes to immigration policy Wednesday night, including a 100-day pause on deportations of certain undocumented immigrants. The department also announced that asylum seekers trying to enter the United States will no longer be part of a controversial policy enacted under former President Donald Trump that forced tens of thousands of people to wait in Mexico. US court hearings.
The deportation moratorium and changes to migrant protection protocols, also known as “staying in Mexico,” come on President Joe Biden’s first day in office. He also signed executive orders reversing additional Trump-era immigration policies.
The pause in deportations, which begins Friday, is part of a review and reset of enforcement policies within Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Service agencies. of citizenship and immigration as the Biden administration “develops its final priorities,” according to a DHS statement.
The moratorium applies to “certain deported non-citizens to ensure that we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security and security public,” according to DHS. This category excludes any immigrants “suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who pose a danger to the national security of the United States”, those who entered after November 1, and those who voluntarily renounced any right to remain in the country, according to a DHS note.
Starting Thursday, “the ministry will stop adding individuals to the [Migrant Protection Protocols] program,” according to a separate statement from DHS. But the department added that border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are still in place. These restrictions allowed for the immediate deportation of most unauthorized travelers to Mexico. DHS said in its statement that more information about those in MPP will be available and asked asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for the time being.
“All current MPP participants should remain where they are, pending further official information from U.S. government officials,” the DHS said.
Eleanor Acer, director of Human Rights First’s refugee protection program, applauded the move, but said the Biden administration must quickly address the plight of the thousands of people still in the program. She also said Biden should reject the Trump administration’s health policy to deport would-be asylum seekers.
“[We] urge the Biden administration to provide information as soon as possible on how to ensure asylum seekers who have been subject to this policy are brought to the United States safely. Lives are at stake and asylum seekers continue to face kidnappings, attacks and other targeted violence,” she said in a statement. [Biden] the trump administration should not embrace or expand the trump administration’s misuse of public health authority and should not use public health as a pretext to deport asylum seekers to places where their lives are in danger. »
The stay-in-Mexico policy began in California and spread to the Texas-Mexico border in early 2019. It has forced more than 60,000 migrants to return to Mexican border towns, many of whom have grappled with a high crime and little or no security.
More than 20,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Cuba and Central America, have been sent from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez under this program, but it is unclear how many remain. Mexican officials in the state of Chihuahua said it was unclear how many migrants have given up and returned home, attempted to cross illegally or decided to stay alone in Mexico.
Also on Wednesday, the president sent Congress an immigration reform bill that contains several longer-term agenda items, including a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. . The announcement of the MPP program warns that the legislation will only apply to people already in the United States.