President Joe Biden announced that his administration will permit 25,000 people who are seeking asylum and are in Mexico to wait in the U.S. until their case is heard. Former President Donald Trump enacted what was known at the “Remain in Mexico” program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocol, during his time in the White House, which mandates that asylum seekers must wait in Mexico for their court hearings in the U.S.
The Biden administration will welcome in this first wave of immigrants on Feb. 19, according to the Associated Press. This is a significant step for Biden as he looks to dismantle Trump’s border policies. AP further reports that close to 70,000 people have enrolled in the program since it was put into place during January 2019.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this move is a step toward “rebuilding a safe, orderly and humane immigration system.”
DHS emphasized this move “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.”
The Biden administration refused to reveal the three ports which crossings would occur for the reason above, but AP reported it would be at Brownsville and El Paso in Texas and San Ysidro in San Diego.
The Trump administration claimed the “Remain in Mexico” policy reduced a pull factor that brought migrants to the border. However, Biden countered by asserting the policy was cruel and put migrants in danger.
Republicans have criticized this move, saying it will only spike illegal immigration at the border. Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blasted the move, saying the country now has a “humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.”
“Effectively returning to catch and release – as the Biden administration announced today – could very well result in the release of COVID positive persons into the U.S., which will exacerbate the dual border and public health crises by making Texas border communities less safe and further straining local resources,” Cruz said in a statement. “It’s long past time for Congress to recognize the reality.”