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'Sadly, we all anticipated this:' Border organizations concerned over Remain in Mexico policy

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Posted at 6:28 AM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 08:28:28-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Trump-era policy that bans migrants from waiting for asylum in the United States was reinstated on Monday. The policy, called Migrant Protection Protocols or the "Remain in Mexico Program" was originally suspended with President Biden first took office.

According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court said Biden likely violated federal law by suspending MPP.

Now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will send asylum seekers to one of the seven border cities including Nogales, Sonora to wait for the outcome of their cases. The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that they are committed to getting this process done within six months.

"They want to shorten the time that people wait for six months," Gia Del Pino, of the migrant aid organization Kino Border Initiative, said. "That doesn't ignore the fact that within those six months people can be exposed to a lot of violence and danger."

She said many of the migrants said they don't feel safe waiting in border cities and many don't have the financial means to get to their court hearing. The agreement between Mexico and the United States to reinstate this policy was made under several conditions such as protection in border cities and COVID-19 vaccinations for migrants.

The Kino Border Initiative aims to help migrants in any way they can. The organization provides migrants with first aid, meals and legal services.

"Organizations like ours are bracing ourselves for a large influx of migrants but unfortunately there is a lack of capacity in terms of migrant aid shelters already without MPP and a lot of folks are being turned away because there isn’t enough space," Del Pino said.

Under MPP, those that are considered vulnerable such as LGBT migrants or those who suffer from physical and mental issues are exempt. Del Pino said migrant aid workers are concerned and demand a restoration of the asylum seeking process.

"These are families that are waiting in Mexico along any part of the border that are waiting for a day at court, for their right for a day in court," Del Pino said. "It's a devastating policy."

She said MPP also conicides with Title 42, which allows the expulsion of migrants who came from a country where a communicable disease is present.

"This is happening at the same time that Title 42 is still in place and in fact, the CDC got orders from the White House that they have to renew Title 42," Del Pino said. These are two separate policies that work together to essentially keep people in the border with no process for asylum."

She said KBI as well as other migrant aid organizations are doing what they can to support those seeking asylum.