Politics

Biden administration says more ‘remain in Mexico’ migrants can enter US

A migrant family waits to be processed after being apprehended near the border between Mexico and the United States in Del Rio, Texas, on May 16, 2021. (Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — The Biden administration is expanding the pool of migrants eligible to be processed into the United States that had been subject to a Trump-era policy forcing them to stay in Mexico, according to a source familiar with the plans.

In February, the Biden administration began the gradual entry of migrants who fell under the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their court date in the United States. The policy, which went into effect January 2019, was an unprecedented departure from previous protocols that allowed for the entry of migrants as they went through their immigration hearings in the United States.

More than 70,000 people were subject to the program. Many waited months, if not years, in squalid conditions and under the threat of extortion, sexual assault and kidnapping.

Starting Wednesday, the administration will allow migrants who had their cases terminated or were ordered removed for not being present at their hearings to be processed, opening it up to potentially tens of thousands of people. In some cases, migrants who had been required to stay in Mexico were unable to make their immigration hearings in the United States because of dangerous conditions or lack of communication.

International organizations are assisting with the process in Mexico. After an individual registers virtually and is confirmed as being eligible to enter, they’re asked to approach a staging location 24 hours in advance of their crossing date. At the staging location, migrants are tested for Covid-19. If someone tests positive, they’ll be put in quarantine for 10 days. Individuals must test negative before coming to the US.

The Biden administration formally ended the “remain in Mexico” policy in early June, a move applauded by immigrant advocates who argued the policy put migrants in harm’s way. More than 11,000 migrants have been admitted to the US who previously fell under the policy.

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