Jan 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Remain in Mexico expands as U.S. immigration court hearings begin

 Immigrants from Haiti and Venezuela await transfer by sheriff's deputies to a U.S. Border Patrol processing center

Immigrants await transfer to a U.S. Border Patrol processing center in Yuma, Ariz. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration brought 36 migrants back to the U.S. for court hearings on Monday under the reimposed Remain in Mexico program and expanded its enforcement of that program into San Diego, even as it continues efforts to end the policy, administration officials told reporters on a call.

The big picture: The administration has asked the Supreme Court to intervene to allow them to end what's formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which forces asylum seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their cases are heard.

  • More than 200 migrants have been already returned to Mexico since a court forced the policy's reimplementation last month.
  • Officials highlighted attempts to make the program more humanitarian compared to when it was first enforced under President Trump, including providing better access to legal counsel both before being sent back to Mexico and ahead of court hearings.
  • Migrants will now be provided transportation directly to shelters after returning to Mexico, facilities have better WiFi and the Mexican government has committed to providing enhanced security at shelters.

By the numbers: As of the end of 2021, just over 200 single male adults had been returned via the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border crossing under MPP, a spokesperson for International Organization for Migration in Mexico told Axios.

  • Administration officials declined to provide official numbers on the Monday call.
  • Migrants will now be enrolled in the San Diego sector in addition to El Paso, and "we anticipate expanding in the near future to other ports of entry along the border, as well," one official said on the call.
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