Administration Continues “Return to Mexico” Policy

(Español) The Trump administration is continuing to implement their procedure of keeping asylum seekers in Mexico. Originally announced in December of 2018, the administration has begun starting the process at the end of January of 2019. Previously, asylum seekers who enter the United States were allowed to wait in the country, either in detention with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or released through some form of parole or on bond. The Department of Homeland Security has officially termed the operation “Migrant Protection Protocol” in order to deter an incoming “caravan” of immigrants seeking asylum from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In addition to serving as a deterrent to incoming migrants, the DHS has also stated the stated goal is to help alleviate the over crowded immigration court system. As of January 2019, there was a backlog of 800,000 cases in the immigration courts in the country. Their hope is that making certain asylum seekers wait outside the country will help alleviate the system. This comes in conjunction with an announced policy from the Mexican government wherein they will be providing temporary work permits to some of those waiting to have for their asylum applications to be adjudicated. While this is a bold new approach to how the administration is handling asylum applicants, this is not meant as a carte blanche policy for all applicants. Typically, the only ones affected are singles coming into the country. After much backlash in public opinion, the administration is currently attempting to do its best to keep families together. Unaccompanied children will not be considered for this new policy. Once the administration begins to increase implementation of the policy, approximately 20 immigrants per day will be returned to MExico per day in order to await adjudication of their asylum applications. While there is no legal challenge to the policy as of now, many immigrant rights advocates have hailed the policy as counter to decades of established and legal asylum policy.