Two weeks later, no sign of the “Remain in Mexico” policy in action at the San Ysidro port of entry


More than two weeks after the Trump administration announced a new policy that would require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their turn in U.S. immigration court, there is still no indication at the San Ysidro port of entry. that it has been implemented.

The Department of Homeland Security said Dec. 20 that the change was “effective immediately,” but advocacy groups along the border continue to receive large numbers of migrant families who have been released from US detention. immigration to the United States. Asylum seekers continue to move through San Ysidro, the southwestern border’s busiest port for asylum applications, according to a recent study.

Katie Waldman, spokeswoman for DHS, said the new policy will be implemented.

“We are in the process of starting implementation,” Waldman said. “We want to ensure an orderly, safe and efficient process.”

Under this policy, asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry or cross the border illegally would go through preliminary processing before crossing the border back into Mexico with documentation showing upcoming state court dates. -United. Hundreds of migrants, mostly from Central America, fleeing violence or poor in their home countries have gathered at the border and are waiting in Tijuana to seek asylum in the United States

Mexico says it has decided to temporarily allow asylum seekers awaiting US immigration court hearings to re-enter the country and will provide humanitarian visas to allow asylum seekers to work while they wait. However, some senior Mexican officials were quick to say that was not possible. The director of Mexico’s National Migration Institute said Mexico would have to change its laws to comply with such a policy.

Since then, it is unclear what will happen if and when the United States begins to implement the policy.

“This is not an agreement, but a unilateral action by the US government and as such the decision is entirely a national matter,” a spokeswoman for the Mexican embassy in Washington said when asked about the delay. of implementation. “As it is its sovereign right, the government of Mexico will take appropriate action in accordance with our legal framework.”

She said Mexican officials would ask the United States for more information about what they planned to do.

Besides confusion in Mexico, the proposed change has also prompted a host of logistical questions from immigration attorneys, attorneys, and others who work closely with the US immigration system.

How would migrants get from the border to the immigration court? Would immigration courts along the border be responsible for hearing all new asylum claims? How would lawyers meet their clients before their hearings, or how would migrants even find lawyers to take their cases?

The answers to these questions are still unknown.

For Everard Meade, director of the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute, the delayed rollout isn’t entirely surprising.

“It’s consistent with almost everything they’ve tried to do with immigration over the last two years,” Meade said. “They put forward policies that seem very harsh and decisive, but seem so simple when in fact the implementation is complicated and much more constrained by law.”

Peter Nunez, a former U.S. attorney from the Southern District of California who supports lower immigration levels, said he was not surprised by all the confusion or that the new policy had not been Implementation.

“I had no expectations, bottom line,” Nunez said. “It’s so frustrating that any attempt to do anything rational is thwarted by either Congress or the courts or both.”

Nunez said he believes asylum seekers should be required to seek protection in the first country they enter that is not their own.

Many expect immigrant advocates to challenge the “Remain in Mexico” policy in court if and when it is implemented.

For Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US/Mexico Border Program, the lack of implementation is a good thing. He worries about the safety of migrants if they are forced to wait months or even years in Mexico and gave as an example the two Honduran teenagers who were recently killed in Tijuana.

“It’s a bit of a relief that Mexico hasn’t completely bought into the idea that it should be the country of waiting for migrants whose asylum claims are being processed in the United States,” said Rios.

Asylum seekers in Tijuana – which has a long backlog of people waiting to enter the United States for processing – were initially stunned by the Trump administration’s announcement. As time passed with no sign of change, those huddled around a tent in a corner of Chaparral Square continued to advance eagerly as their names were called asking for asylum.

Migrants organizing the waiting list said they had not seen or heard of anyone being brought back to Mexico to wait.

Morrissey writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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