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Friday, January 21, 2022

Mexico to allow renewal of US asylum policy

WASHINGTON – Mexico has agreed to allow the United States to reopen a controversial asylum program that requires some migrants to wait in Mexico until US immigration authorities decide their cases – a new complication for the Biden administration’s fragile efforts to redesign the country’s immigration system following the imposition of restrictive measures. policies of former President Donald Trump.

The Biden administration, which announced the agreement on Thursday, has tried to end a program that US officials and rights groups have described as dangerous and inhuman. But he was forced to restart it by a court order, and this requires the cooperation of the Mexican government, which has been reluctant to do so without committing itself to addressing humanitarian issues. The program, known as Stay in Mexico and formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, is expected to resume next week, according to The Washington Post, which previously reported on the agreement. Asylum hearings will be held at tent courts in San Diego, El Paso and Brownsville, Texas.

At Mexico’s request, the United States agreed to limit immigration procedures to six months per asylum seeker. During the Trump administration, abandonment cases in Mexico could drag on for years in some cases, according to Biden administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to negotiate the terms of the deal. US officials have also pledged to improve access to a lawyer when migrants say they do fear returning to Mexico, and to provide migrants with more information about the program.

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The program was an early target of President Biden’s plan to rebuild the asylum system, which was largely dismantled under Trump. Restarting it has always been a bitter pill for the Biden administration. But its reopening, which involves placing more people in crowded areas, comes as the United States prepares to spread an alarming new variant of the coronavirus called Omicron, which was discovered in the country this week.

As part of an agreement with Mexico, the United States will offer Covid-19 vaccines to migrants participating in the program, Biden administration officials said.

Critics say the program forced migrants to stay in unsanitary tent camps, where they faced sexual violence, kidnapping, torture and harsh weather. Under the new agreement, asylum seekers in the program will be mostly single adults who are less vulnerable to waiting than, for example, migrant families with young children, officials said.

The program changes did not satisfy critics. “This is a disaster that is waiting in the wings,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnik, a political adviser to the American Immigration Council, tweeted Thursday.

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