‘I am confident in the program’s continued success in adjudicating meritorious cases quickly and preventing fraudulent claims…’
(Liberty Headlines) The U.S. government on Thursday began sending asylum-seekers back to Nogales, Mexico, to await court hearings that will be scheduled roughly 350 miles away in Juarez, Mexico.
Authorities are expanding a policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols—or, unofficially dubbed Remain in Mexico—that requires tens of thousands of asylum seekers to wait out their immigration court hearings in Mexico.
The program has been widely credited with helping to curb the immigration crisis, which exploded last year as caravans of migrants flooded the border, hoping to exploit loopholes that would grant them unfettered access to the United States.
Earlier this week, Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Douglas Nicholls thanked administration officials for helping deliver the border town from its previous state of emergency due to migrants overwhelming the shelter system.
At peak, crossings in the Yuma sector alone surpassed 144,000 in a single month. They have since dropped by more than 70 percent according to the most recent available data.
Until this week, the government was driving some asylum seekers from Nogales, Arizona, to El Paso, Texas, so they could be returned to Juarez.
Now, asylum-seekers will have to find their own way to Juarez, much as they were able to trek hundreds of miles through Mexico in order to reach the U.S. border.
About 30 asylum seekers were sent to Nogales, Mexico, on Thursday, said Gilda Loureiro, director of the San Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora.
Loureiro said the migrants hadn’t made it to the shelter yet but that it was prepared and has a capacity of about 400.
“We’re going to take up to the capacity we have,” she said.
Despite the success of the Remain in Mexico program, one of several Trump administration policies that have all but ended asylum in the U.S., open-border advocates have repeatedly attacked the policies, claiming it puts migrants at risk of being kidnapped, robbed or extorted in dangerous Mexican border towns.
However, the president and other advocates of immigration enforcement have countered that under the Left’s porous border policies, the danger was simply transferred to the U.S.
Nogales is now the seventh border crossing through which U.S. authorities returns migrants to Mexico to await court hearings. The policy was introduced in January 2018 in San Diego.
More than 56,000 people were sent back to Mexico by the end of November, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
Many have sought to enter the country illegally in order to take advantage of better economic prospects, including the generous welfare system, while securing their place through birthright citizenship established by the 13th Amendment of the Constitution.
Ignoring U.S. sovereignty, federal immigration laws and policies dictating the terms of asylum, migrants have been coached by activists to make specious asylum claims regardless of their specific circumstances.
Of the more than 24,000 cases that have been decided, only 117, or less than 1%, have been granted asylum or some other form relief allowing them to stay in the United States.
Under the previous system, migrant processing centers in the U.S. were overwhelmed, resulting in crowded conditions. Moreover, the provisions of the controversial Flores settlement required those with children to be detained for no more than 20 days.
This led some “coyotes” and drug runners at the border to exploit the vulnerable minors and force them into fake family units.
In a statement, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the Remain in Mexico program has been “an extremely effective tool.”
“I am confident in the program’s continued success in adjudicating meritorious cases quickly and preventing fraudulent claims,” Wolf wrote.
Still, as with nearly all of the Trump administration’s efforts to curb illegal immigration, it has faced costly court challenges by left-wing activist groups, many expecting failure but hoping for an injunction from an activist judge while their claims meander through the complex appeals system.
A three-judge appeals court panel heard arguments Oct. 1 in San Francisco on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to block the policy. The court has yet to rule.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press