Biden reinstating Trump’s ‘Stay in Mexico’ policy, tent cities will cost $24.6m a month


The Biden administration will reinstate the “Stay in Mexico” border policy enacted under the Trump administration that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration court hearings, the Associated Press reported.

The reinstatement, which is expected to take effect in mid-November, is in line with a federal judge’s August order to reinstate the “good faith” policy.

Former President Donald Trump launched the policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, in January 2019, but President Joe Biden suspended the practice on his first day in office, AP reported.

The Biden administration must now rebuild tent courts in the Texas border towns of Laredo and Brownsville, which will cost $24.6 million a month, according to court documents.

The Mexican government must also approve reinstatement of the policy, although it has expressed concerns ranging from wanting asylum seekers’ cases to be finalized within six months and that would-be immigrants have information at day and specific on hearing dates and times, AP reported.

Mexico also wants exemptions for “particularly vulnerable populations, better legal advice for asylum seekers, and better coordination in cases where people are returned to Mexico.”

For more Associated Press reporting, see below.

A Trump-era policy that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration hearings will be reinstated in November. Above, a United States Customs and Border Protection officer checks the documents of migrants who are on their way to seek asylum in the United States, on International Bridge 1 as they depart Nuevo Laredo, in Mexico, September 17, 2019.
Fernando Llano/AP Photo

About 70,000 asylum seekers were subject to the stay policy in Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, a Trump appointee, left open the possibility that the administration could try again to end the policy, and officials say they will soon release a plan that , he hopes, will survive legal scrutiny.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ended the policy in June after an internal review, saying it had achieved “mixed effectiveness”.

Illegal border crossings fell sharply after Mexico, facing Trump’s threat of higher tariffs, acquiesced in 2019 to the policy’s rapid expansion. Asylum seekers faced major violence while waiting in Mexico and faced a host of legal hurdles, such as accessing lawyers and case information.

The administration is working to ensure the capacity of a standby system for 1.4 million cases.

Mexico’s foreign relations department said Thursday it was concerned asylum seekers would receive fair treatment in court under the policy, have access to a lawyer and be safe.

Mexico said it had also raised questions about another US policy to deport migrants without the possibility of seeking asylum. Trump invoked these powers, known as the Title 42 authority, in March 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Biden administration has been a strong defender of special powers.

“Mexico will continue discussions with the US executive, with the aim of achieving a safe, orderly and regulated regional migration policy,” the foreign relations department said.

U.S. officials said the renewed stay-in-Mexico policy will apply to people who are ineligible for Title 42 authority. The policy was last widely used on people from Spanish-speaking countries, but the officials say eligible nationalities have not been determined.

The outline of the reinstated policy comes as the Biden administration has yet to develop the “humane” asylum system the president promised during his campaign after quickly dismantling many of Trump’s policies. Illegal border crossings soared under Biden’s watch, with a record number of unaccompanied children and, in September, the arrival of around 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, at a camp in Del Rio, in Texas.

Homeland Security said in a statement that it “remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”

Migrant children waiting in Mexico
The Biden administration will reinstate the Stay in Mexico border policy adopted under the Trump administration that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for US immigration court hearings. Above, Central American migrant children pass the time at the Pan de Vida shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, while waiting with their families to seek asylum in the United States on September 12, 2019.
Christian Chavez/AP Photo

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