SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday launched a second bid to end a Trump-era policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court, while also reaffirming a commitment to reinstate it under court order.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the “Remain in Mexico” policy likely contributed to a drop in illegal border crossings in 2019 but with “substantial and unjustifiable human costs" to asylum-seekers who were exposed to violence while waiting in Mexico.
The announcement came more than two months after a federal judge in Texas ordered that the policy be reinstated "in good faith,” while leaving an opening for the administration to try again to justify its move.
Some of the administration's most prominent pro-immigration allies say it took too long for Mayorkas to draft Friday's opinion.
The administration said earlier this month that it expected to reinstate the policy, known officially as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” by mid-November, subject to the Mexican government's approval. It has been working to meet Mexico's demands to generally conclude cases in 180 days and improve asylum-seekers' access to legal representation and case information.
Many U.S.-based legal aid groups who worked with asylum-seekers in Mexico who were subject to the policy say they will no longer accept such cases, raising questions about how the U.S. can satisfy Mexico's insistence on better access to counsel. Administration officials say they believe there are enough other attorneys who will represent asylum-seekers sent back to Mexico.
Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press