The Biden administration will give thousands of migrants whose asylum claims were denied under the Trump administration’s now-scrapped “Remain in Mexico” policy another opportunity to seek sanctuary in the US, according to a new report Tuesday.
The Associated Press, citing an anonymous Department of Homeland Security official, said that a registration period for asylum-seekers whose cases were denied or dismissed due to failure to appear would open Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear how long the window for registration would remain open, nor was it clear how many people would be eligible to be released into the United States pending a decision on their cases.
Michele Klein Solomon, the International Organization for Migration’s director for North America, Central America and the Caribbean, told the AP that she expected that at least 10,000 people to become eligible, but that estimate is likely to be low.
In a June 1 memo terminating the policy, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that approximately 68,000 people were sent to Mexico under the policy, which was implemented in January 2019 and forced asylum-seekers to wait south of the border for their cases to be heard in an American immigration court.
Critics of the policy, officially known as the “Migrant Protection Protocols Program” argued that asylum claimants were hampered by violent conditions in Mexico, lack of access to lawyers and difficulty making it to court.
According to DHS estimates cited by Mayorkas, approximately 44 percent of claims heard under the program were denied for failure to appear. There are nearly 7,000 asylum-seekers whose cases were dismissed — the vast majority in San Diego — and more than 32,000 whose cases were denied, mostly in Texas, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
It is unknown how many cases were denied specifically for failing to appear in court, but if Mayorkas’ estimate is correct, the number of migrants eligible to make renewed claims is likely to fall between 14,000 and 18,000.
Many whose claims were denied are thought to have left the US-Mexico border region, raising fears that they will make the dangerous journey back to the frontier. The DHS official told AP that the administration is aware of those dangers and considering bringing people to the United States, as it is doing to reunite families separated by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings.
Biden promised to terminate the “Remain in Mexico” program during his presidential campaign and ordered its suspension on his first day in office, but left a window open by ordering a review before shutting it down permanently.
More than 12,300 people with active cases have been admitted to the U.S. since February, while others who have registered but not yet entered the country bring the count to about 17,000.
The United States was by far the most popular destination for asylum-seekers last year, with 250,800 new claims, more than twice as many as Germany, with 102,600 claims, the United Nations refugee agency reported last week. Spain, France and Peru rounded out the top five.
With Post wires