DHS: Migrants along entire border can now be returned to Mexico

The Trump administration said Friday it can now return most migrants who express fear of persecution to Mexico regardless of where U.S. officials encountered them along the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s the latest attempt to effectively end a system President Trump and other immigrant hardliners have criticized as “catch and release.”

The Department of Homeland Security announced it has “effectively” implemented the  out of tents and shipping containers to hold hearings for migrants returned near those two border cities in south Texas.

CBS News series detailed how the program has placed vulnerable migrants, including families with small children and single women, in precarious situations during their prolonged stays in dangerous border cities in northern Mexico, where the chances of finding and securing American lawyers are slim.

CBS News series on “Remain in Mexico”“Leave me in a cell”: The desperate pleas of asylum seekers inside El Paso’s immigration court“I fear for our lives”: Asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico face danger and desperationAdvocates say “Remain in Mexico” policy turns migrants into a “marketable commodity”

Along with criticism from Democrats and immigrant advocates, the policy has also be denounced by some of the very asylum officers interviewing migrants in the program, which they believe undermines obligations America has to refugees under both domestic and international law.

Immigration hardliners and some government officials have long attacked the practice of releasing apprehended migrants, mostly families with children or individuals seeking asylum, who crossed the southern border illegally but otherwise don’t have criminal records. Under this system, denounced by critics as a “loophole” that incentivizes economic migration, migrants who have extra legal protections are typically detained for a few days or weeks, and then released to local shelters with a notice to appear in immigration court.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Monday pledged to effectively abolish this system starting next week. His agency has said that this would be partly accomplished by “generally” placing all families who claim fear in MPP and returning them Mexico.

There are certain humanitarian exceptions for the program and the U.S. government has generally only returned non-Mexican Spanish-speaking migrants to Mexico, meaning that officials will likely not be able to place all migrants who express fear in the MPP policy.

Under this effort, McAleenan said those who do not claim fear will be streamlined for deportation.

To further deter migrants, the administration is also hoping to employ controversial asylum agreements it has recently reached with countries in Central America. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld broad enforcement of the Trump administration rule, which represents the most sweeing effort yet to restrict asylum for people who traveled through a third country.

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