Thousands of migrants forced to wait in Mexico under a Trump-era programme will gradually be allowed to enter the US to pursue asylum claims in coming weeks, Department of Homeland Security says.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has ended a Trump-era policy requiring migrants and asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in US immigration court.
The programme will be unwound in a “quick, and orderly manner,” DHS said in a statement on Monday, hours after a judge lifted an order in effect since December that it be reinstated.
Informally known as "remain in Mexico", the policy pushed non-Mexican migrants and asylum-seekers back to Mexico to await resolution of their US cases, which sometimes took months or years.
The policy "has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” the department said on Monday.
The announcement comes after the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of President Joe Biden in his administration's bid to end the programme on June 30.
The Biden administration will no longer enrol migrants in the programme and those currently waiting in Mexico will be allowed to enter the United States as they return for their next scheduled court dates, DHS said in the statement.
'Migrant Protection Protocols'
Many questions remain, including whether those whose claims have been denied or dismissed will get a second chance or if those whose next court dates are months away will be allowed to return to the US sooner.
Homeland Security said it will provide additional information “in the coming days.”
About 70,000 migrants were subject to the policy, known officially as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” from when President Donald Trump introduced it in January 2019 until Biden suspended it on his first day in office in January 2021, fulfilling a campaign promise.
Many were allowed to return to the US to pursue their cases during the early months of Biden’s presidency.
Nearly 5,800 people were subject to the policy from December through June, a modest number. Nicaraguans account for the largest number, with others from Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela.
Trump made the policy a centrepiece of border enforcement, which critics said was inhumane for exposing migrants to extreme violence in Mexico and making access to attorneys far more difficult.