The Biden administration is planning to reinstate a controversial Trump-era immigration policy along its southern border that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings at the U.S. Immigration Court.
But the plan to reinstate the “Stay in Mexico” program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), next month requires the approval and cooperation of the Mexican government, which has raised concerns.
The Justice Department said in a court file that U.S. officials are working to address these concerns.
The announcement comes after the US said it would reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 in early November — ending pandemic travel restrictions set in March 2020.
About 70,000 asylum seekers have been subjected to the “Stay in Mexico” policy, which President Donald Trump introduced in January 2019.
Trump, who during his tenure advanced tough anti-immigration policies, argued that many asylum applications were fraudulent and U.S.-allowed applicants could end up staying illegally if they bypassed court hearings. Biden ended the MPP policy immediately after taking office as part of a broader promise to take a more humane approach to immigration. But a federal court considered the termination of the program unjustified, standing on the side of the two states that sued the administration.
Immigration advocates say the program exposes migrants to violence and abductions in dangerous Mexican border towns.
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