Biden Ends 'Remain in Mexico' Policy, Allows Asylum Seekers Into US

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February 12, 2021

The Biden administration announced Thursday it will roll back former president Donald Trump's "remain in Mexico" policy, allowing about 25,000 asylum seekers in Mexico to enter the United States for their immigration hearings. 

The Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of a virtual registration program for asylum seekers that will begin next week. Registered asylum seekers will be advised to travel to a location on the U.S.-Mexico border where they will be tested for coronavirus before entering the United States.

Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the move a step toward reforming the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

"This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values," Mayorkas said. "Especially at the border, however, where capacity constraints remain serious, changes will take time. Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border."

Under the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), asylum seekers were made to remain in Mexico during their immigration proceedings. The policy has applied to more than 70,000 prospective migrants since it was established in 2018, including thousands of asylum seekers who crossed the border illegally.

Rep. Greg Steube (R., Fla.), a member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, slammed the change in policy, saying it undermines national security and public health.

"This is the latest in a long string of open border policies from the Biden administration," Steube told the Washington Free Beacon. "While his administration lifts travel bans to allow terrorists into the United States and puts out this new MPP order to overwhelm the southern border, his administration has also talked about a domestic travel ban for Florida. His policies put America last by threatening our national security, jeopardizing public health, and attacking our own."

The Biden administration also removed an emergency designation used to secure funding for the border wall on Thursday, after Rep. John Katko (R., N.Y.) and other Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee sent a letter to the president calling for action to address the "mounting crisis" at the border.

"Your recent sweeping border security and immigration enforcement policy rollbacks are causing a new crisis at our southwest border, undercutting the rule of law, and damaging the integrity of our territorial borders," the letter reads. "If you are, indeed, serious about finding common ground on homeland security issues important to the lives of Americans, let us return to a time—not too long ago—when Democrats joined Republicans in supporting increased funding to secure our border, including physical barriers and other commonsense security and enforcement measures."