The United States this Friday began receiving asylum seekers who remain in Mexico awaiting resolution of their cases.
The process begins at the San Diego border crossing, before expanding to Brownsville, Texas, on Monday, and El Paso, also in Texas, next Friday.
The 25,000 migrants have been on their toes since Feb. 11 when the Department of Homeland Security announced it would begin the first phase of processing for those with open cases under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), will be in charge of identifying and “screening” asylum seekers who were sent to Mexico as part of the Migrant Protection Protocol and who will be admitted at the southern border under a new Biden administration program.
“UNHCR is working to select the people who are most vulnerable or who have the most time in the MPP program to cross into the United States,” said White House border affairs officer Roberta Jacobson.
The UNHCR website, conecta.acnur.org, began sending messages to those selected with information about the registration process.
The agency’s job, Jacobson said, will be to “complete all the paperwork” for asylum seekers who qualify for admission to the country and lead them to take a COVID-19 test before heading to the United States.
According to Homeland Security, about 300 immigrants will be processed daily through at least two ports of entry, but Jacobson clarified that they will start “with very small numbers” to ensure that “everything runs smoothly.”
Change in policy
A group of Democratic lawmakers from both houses of Congress introduced the bill on Thursday, based on President Joe Biden’s “historically progressive” immigration plan on his first day in office a month ago.
The ambitious plan, called the U.S. Citizenship Act, must not only have the backing of the House of Representatives, but in the Senate it requires at least 60 votes to invoke cloture.
The introduction of the legislation is seen as a crucial step to regulate the immigration status of more than 10 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
The bill was introduced by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and represents a180-degree setback to the immigration policies implemented during Donald Trump’s administration.
Several Republican lawmakers have already expressed their disagreement with the proposal, while White House officials have said the president is open to negotiating with Congress.