The United States is working to reopen some cases of non-Mexican asylum seekers who were forced to wait in Mexico under the administration of former President Donald Trump, a top US border official said on Wednesday.
The move would allow those migrants to enter the United States to pursue their claims for protection and represents the latest step by President Joe Biden to unwind a Trump-era program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Pro-immigrant advocates have called for the Biden administration to reopen the cases of migrants who were ordered deported after they failed to appear at a scheduled court date while enrolled in the MPP program. Advocates say some migrants could not attend hearings because they were kidnapped or in other danger in Mexico or due to logistical problems.
Biden, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 20, moved to wind down the Trump program in February as part of a broader effort to undo his Republican predecessor’s restrictive policies. The United States has already allowed more than 10,000 migrants into the country who had active MPP cases, Troy Miller, acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
Nearly 28,000 migrants were ordered deported due to a failure to appear in court since the MPP program began in 2019, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
BuzzFeed News reported the decision on Tuesday, citing internal government documents.
Some Republicans have blamed an increase in migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border in recent months in part on Biden’s decision to end the MPP program.
Pro-immigrant advocates and Democrats praised the move, saying the Trump program denied migrants the ability to seek asylum in the United States.
US border authorities are also preparing for the eventual end of a different Trump-era health policy that allows migrants to be rapidly expelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller said.
Shortly after taking office, Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the policy, known as Title 42, but has continued to apply it to single adults and some families.
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