The United States will begin to return some asylum seekers to Mexico

The Trump government will begin on Friday to return some migrants seeking asylum to Mexico to await their hearings in the US immigration court. UU., The first step to implement a new border policy announced last month.

A US official UU He said that under the program, beginning at the San Diego border, selected immigrants will be rejected after being prosecuted by the US immigration authorities and will receive a notice to appear in a US immigration court. UU In about a month, US officials said. UU

An official of the Trump administration said that the USA. UU They will determine how many migrants are sent to Mexico each day, but did not indicate how many would be.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the plan in response to the large number of migrants, mostly from Central America, who cross the border illegally or seek asylum at ports of entry. Ms. Nielsen said in the testimony before Congress that a change was needed because the current policy allows asylum seekers to "disappear in the United States."

Fleeing the violence of her hometown in Honduras, Gabriela Rodríguez traveled thousands of miles with her daughter to the Mexican border with the US. UU In Tijuana. The Wall Street Journal followed her as she weighed her options for crossing to the US, hoping to leave her past behind. Photo / Video: Jake Nicol / WSJ

In December, the Mexican government said it would allow Central American migrants to return to the country while waiting for hearings from the United States. They will obtain humanitarian visas to stay and work. Officials also said they have had multiple meetings with their American counterparts to discuss the time, technical details and logistics to ensure that asylum seekers have access to their lawyers.

The new focus on the border follows a steady increase in the number of families crossing illegally (most seek asylum) and surrender to border agents. Almost everyone is seeking asylum in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. A new caravan of more than 10,000 Central Americans has also crossed into Mexico in recent days. Those immigrants are expected to head to the United States border to apply for asylum.

In December, Border Patrol agents detained more than 27,000 people who were traveling as families, a record number of these migrants in a single month. Since the start of the government's fiscal year in October, more than 77,000 of these migrants have been detained.

In the previous fiscal year, a record number of asylum-seeking immigrants who travel as part of families, more than 107,000 people, have been arrested at the border and then released into communities in the United States. Most adults are equipped with an ankle bracelet to track the location and receive instructions on when and where to inform the immigration authorities, but little other guidance.

A judge's decision on his final status could take years amid a backlog of more than 809,000 cases.

Immigration advocates have criticized politics and promised to fight it. For many, what is at stake is the right to due process of migrants in a complicated legal process and their access to lawyers.

Shaw Drake, political adviser to the Border Rights Center of the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas, said the ACLU is leaving "all options open" to challenge the government's efforts. The specific legal action, he said, "will depend on how and what the administration deploys."

Customs and Border Protection officials in San Ysidro, the busiest legal crossing for migrants seeking asylum, have allowed an average of about 80 migrants per day to enter the San Diego-Tijuana, Mexico intersection. The port of entry has space for about 300 people, but some migrants are detained there for a few days, which limits the number of migrants arriving.

Thousands of people wait in Tijuana for their turn to cross. An informal list of asylum seekers, ordered by date of arrival, is maintained by the migrants. Every morning, those who have come to cross their turn, are announced in a square there.

While this program is being implemented in San Diego, there will be no other change in the processing of migrants seeking refuge in other legal crossings and those who are arrested crossing the border illegally. Illegal crossings vary widely along the border, with agents on some stretches who see hundreds of people a day surrender to them and seek asylum.

Those who are returned to Mexico will be granted re-entry to the US. UU The day of your immigration hearing and they will be received at the border and taken to court by the Immigration and Customs Service. They will then be taken to Mexico and returned to the United States for any subsequent hearing.

The majority of those seeking asylum come from Central American nations plagued by violence and poverty, such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and they cross Mexico on their northward journey. Immigration advocates have criticized the policy because they said they are concerned that vulnerable immigrant women and children may be victims while waiting in Mexico.

Write to Alicia A. Caldwell in [email protected]

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