President Trump did his best to clamp down on all forms of immigration to the U.S., both legal and illegal. There’s nothing illegal about presenting yourself at the U.S. border and claiming asylum, which by law the U.S. must then adjudicate the claim in court.
Before Trump, the federal government would release asylum seekers in the U.S. and give them a court date, which could be years in the future. Trump required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their court date arrived.
The Biden administration is reversing that policy.
President Joe Biden pledged while campaigning to immediately rescind the Trump policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Under the program, more than 65,000 non-Mexican asylum seekers were denied entry and sent back across the border pending court hearings. Most returned home but some stayed in Mexico in sometimes squalid or dangerous conditions, vulnerable to kidnapping and other violence.
Now they will be allowed into the United States to wait for their applications to be heard in immigration courts. The effort will start slowly, with only a limited numbers of people being admitted on Friday at the port of entry in San Ysidro, California.
It will expand to two additional ports of entry in Texas, including one near a migrant encampment in Matamoros, Mexico, in the coming week, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman.
The administration estimates that only 25,000 people out of the more than 65,000 enrolled in MPP still have active immigration court cases and is set to begin processing that group on Friday. But it has cautioned that the efforts will take time.
The Biden administration is treading carefully, wary that the policy shift could encourage more migrants to trek to the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. officials say anyone who seeks to enter and is not a member of the MPP program will be immediately expelled.