The United States begins this Friday to reverse the “Stay in Mexico” program, through which more than 70,000 asylum seekers were expelled to Mexico since January 2019.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to enter the country to pursue their asylum case, but only the approximately 25 thousand who have their case open.
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The beginning of the process puts an end to one of the star policies of former President Donald Trump, who agreed with his counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador that thousands of people seeking protection were exposed in cities like Tijuana, Baja California; Juárez, Chihuahua; Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
The process will not be immediate and will have the support of international agencies such as UNHCR, IOM, the Red Cross and Unicef. A web page that will be operational as of next week will receive the applications and process them so that each person knows when they can cross and the procedure to follow. The US authorities reiterate a message: this is a closed program and no one outside of it will be able to cross to the other side.
This process reverses one of the key anti-immigration policies agreed between Trump and the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and whose symbol is the camp on the banks of the Rio Bravo, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
These are some of his keys to the end of “Stay in Mexico”:
Who can apply to enter the US?
Only people who were returned from the US within the “Stay in Mexico” program and who have their case open will be accepted. Since January 2019, it is estimated that some 70,000 were expelled, but currently only 25,000 would have the right to enter the United States.
It is understood as an “open case” to have one of the three appointments pending with the judge who determines asylum or to be awaiting the appeal if it has been rejected.
What will the process be?
Those who meet the requirements must enroll in a Web page which will be in operation next week.
As advanced Political Animal, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, was in charge of developing the web. Before, people must check on this page if your case is active. Simply enter your A-Number.
When they register, asylum seekers must wait for instructions. They will be given an appointment to take an antigen test and subsequently be able to enter the US. Once inside the country, social organizations are expected to have quarantine shelters where they must spend ten days before being released.
How is the order of entry determined?
The objective is to establish priority entry for vulnerable people or people who have been in the process for a long time. It should be remembered that hundreds of the asylum seekers suffered kidnappings and extortion after being returned to Mexico. The US authorities have already stated that one of the priorities will be asylum seekers from the Matamoros camp, Tamaulipas, in which hundreds of people have been sleeping on the banks of the Rio Grande for more than a year and a half.
Asylum seekers are expected to access through Tijuana, Juárez and Matamoros, although logistics are still being worked on.
What will be the role of Mexico?
Mexico played a key role in the implementation of the program by the government of Donald Trump. He promised jobs and security, but research developed by Political Animal they prove that what the López Obrador executive did was only open the door for expulsion without offering any support. Now, UNHCR officials assured that the Mexican administration is involved in the process, although at the moment no member of the López Obrador government has explained what their role will be.
In principle, it is foreseen that, in the event that there are asylum seekers with an open case who return to their countries of origin, the Mexican authorities will extend them a permit to be able to attend their appointment.
What guarantees entry into the US?
Those who enter the US are not guaranteed to be granted asylum by a judge. In fact, most applicants are rejected. For example, in the last fiscal year of 59 thousand 712 refugee requests processed by the US authorities only 15 thousand 751 received protection, while the rest were rejected.
What will happen to the asylum seekers to whom they closed the case?
Most of the cases closed is because the applicants did not show up for their appointment with the judge. Many returned to their countries due to the insecurity that exists in the cities of northern Mexico, some even forced by the Mexican government, which established bus routes that were classified as “disguised deportations”. This group, the one that has its case closed, would be made up of about 65 thousand people. At the moment no plan has been announced for them to cross into the US.