President Biden will begin sending asylum seekers back to Mexico as early as next week under a reinstated Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program – but will offer them the option of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a learned Axios.
Why is this important: Under court orders, the president will formally rescind a key immigration promise, which will force asylum seekers to wait months in Mexico before their immigration court hearings in the United States — as long as Mexico accepts them.
- One difference from the program under former President Trump’s administration: All migrant adults enrolled in “Remain in Mexico” will be offered the vaccine, although it may not be required, according to two government officials. ‘immigration.
- It’s unclear at what point in the process migrants might get vaccinated, whether before they are turned back, when they return to the United States for their court hearing, or at some other time.
- The policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), will be reinstated first in El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, as well as San Diego, Calif., a DHS official said.
Yes, but: Time is running out and the administration is ultimately at the mercy of Mexico’s cooperation.
- “Per the court order, we are working to reimplement the MPP as quickly as possible,” DHS spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa told Axios.
- “We cannot do this until we have independent agreement from the Mexican government to accept those we seek to enroll in the MPP. We will communicate to the court and the public the timing of reapplication when we are ready to TO DO. “
What to watch: Vulnerable populations should be exempted. It is unclear who will fall into this category, or how border officials will decide who will be placed in the program.
- The effectiveness of the policy will continually depend on Mexico’s willingness to accept returned migrants.
- Two sources familiar with the internal discussions also highlighted concerns about migrants being forced to cross Mexico in the middle of the night, so they can be on time for early morning court hearings.
- The administration is trying to address this security issue ahead of the subsequent reopening of the MPP courts.
The big picture: A federal court ordered the administration to restart the MPP soon after it ended.
- Immigration officials are split on the program.
- Some believe a revamped version would be useful with higher than normal border flows, while others want nothing to do with the program which had been plagued by humanitarian concerns.
- As the administration prepared to restart the MPP, it also made a second attempt to end it.
What they say : An administration official noted that they had long said they would both comply with the court order, while simultaneously appealing the decision.