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Critics say asylum seekers face another kind of wall — the Biden administration

The port of entry between Presidio, Texas, and Ojinaga, Mexico, over the Rio Grande.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
Texas Standard
The Biden administration announced last week it would comply with a court order and resume a Trump-era policy that requires migrants seeking to enter the U.S. to stay in Mexico as they await immigration hearings.

Critics of the Trump-era policy that leaves people seeking asylum in the United States stranded in Mexico are denouncing the U.S. government’s plan to reinstate it.

The Biden administration says it is complying with a federal court order after trying to end the so-called “Remain in Mexico” program. However, immigrant and human rights advocates are troubled by the administration’s decision to expand the "Migration Protection Protocols" to include asylum seekers of any country in the Western Hemisphere other than Mexico.

“Anyone who practices immigration law along the southern border, who have done these types of cases, know that there’s no way to make this program humane,” said Edna Yang, co-executive director of American Gateways, an organization that provides legal services to immigrants in Central Texas. “There’s no way to protect individuals in this program. There’s no way to really guarantee the things the Biden administration is guaranteeing.”

Mexico’s government has agreed to accept people returned to its country and the Biden administration says its added protections that address humanitarian concerns raised by Mexico and others.

These revamped polic i es promise to provide migrants with better access to legal resources and a speedier immigration court process.

“The Trump administration said that all of these cases would be adjudicated within six months, but you see the backlogs that were created when the program happened under that administration because there were so many people put into MPP,” Yang said. “Now you have an expansion of that program where even more individuals are going to be put into MPP.”

Bill Holston, executive director of Human Rights Initiative of North Texas , said he’s even more concerned after hearing about the experiences of Haitian migrants seeking asylum. Many were returned to Haiti while many others are at an encampment at Mexico’s southern border.

“We've seen the ways that people, and particularly Black people, are targeted and exploited as they await their cases on the other side of the border,” Holston said. “There’s no humane or gentle way to expel people back into the hands of their persecutors. We are way past time for asylum proceedings to begin again at the border.”

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Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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