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US to Re- Open Southern Border to Asylum-Seekers on February 19

The United States will begin re-opening its southern border since February 19 to asylum seekers who forced to remain in Mexico by the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said.

“Building on a series of Executive Orders, the Biden Administration is announcing another step in our phased strategy to reform the nation’s immigration system. Beginning on February 19, the DHS will begin phase one of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border,” the DHS said in a statement.

US authorities will begin working with approximately 25,000 people whose cases remain open under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). All these individuals urged to remain waiting further instructions, including how to proceed with virtual registration and provide the necessary information.

The DHS called on these people not to approach the US border at this moment.

The Trump administration has implemented the MPP, also known as the “remain in Mexico” policy, since 2019, forced applicants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed in the United States. The Biden White House announced its commitment to overturn this measure.

All migrants processed under the new program will be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to enter the United States, DHS said.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has emphasized the US desire to restore safe and humane immigration system. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values,” he said, meaning the previous administration’s attempts to limit the flow of immigrants.

Mayorkas warned that changes will take some time. “Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border. Due to the current pandemic, restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced,” he said.

The new process applies to individuals who were returned to Mexico under the MPP program and have cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), DHS said. All other asylum seekers should wait further instructions, the statement added.

“This announcement should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States. Eligible individuals will only be allowed to enter through designated ports of entry at designated times. We will provide instructions in the coming days for how individuals with active MPP cases may remotely register for in-processing,” DHS said.

By Dmitry Zlodorev

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