In yet another move to upend former President Donald Trump's immigration policies, the Biden administration announced that the United States would let around 25,000 asylum-seekers into the country as they await their hearings. This is a stark contrast to the Trump-era immigration policy that kept asylum-seekers in Mexico as they waited for their immigration hearings.
"Building on a series of Executive Orders last week, the Biden Administration is announcing another step in our phased strategy to reform the nation's immigration system," the Department of Homeland Security announced on Thursday in a statement.
"Beginning on February 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin phase one of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border," the department said. "DHS will begin processing people who had been forced to 'remain in Mexico' under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Approximately 25,000 individuals in MPP continue to have active cases."
There will initially be three ports where asylum cases will be reprocessed, which expect to process up to 300 people a day, according to USA Today.
"President Joe Biden's administration declined to publicly identify the three crossings out of fear it may encourage a rush of people," the Associated Press reported. Immigration officials allegedly told Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) that the entry points will be Brownsville and El Paso in Texas, and San Diego's San Ysidro crossing in California.
"Eligible individuals will only be allowed to enter through designated ports of entry at designated times," the DHS noted.
The Trump administration implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols, often referred to as "Remain in Mexico," in January 2019.
Ken Cuccinelli, former acting deputy secretary of DHS, said in February 2020 that MPP and other measures are "critical to averting a further crisis."
Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said, "MPP has been a game-changer in the U.S. government's efforts to address the ongoing crisis at the southwest border."
The Trump administration made an agreement with the Mexican government, which allowed U.S. border officials to send back more than 70,000 migrants to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols, according to an analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Hearings for people enrolled in MPP have been suspended since June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DHS said there would be a new "virtual registration process that will be accessible from any location."
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas added, "As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, 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," Mayorkas claimed.
A new Morning Consult poll that was released this week tells a different story. The survey found that the most unpopular executive orders that President Joe Biden signed into action during the first weeks in office were related to immigration, including expanding the number of refugees admitted to the United States and halting construction on the border wall.
"Orders pertaining to immigration and immigrant rights constitute five of his seven least popular actions among voters, and are particularly animating for Republicans," said Cameron Easley of Morning Consult.
This week, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tom Homan warned that the Biden administration's policies have already caused a surge at the U.S. southern border. The former ICE director alleged that the entire country would become a sanctuary jurisdiction, which "means more tragedies are going to come."