The White House announced Tuesday it is rolling back former President Donald Trump’s policy of sending illegal immigrants back to Mexico to await the results of immigration cases.
“Starting February 19, the United States will begin to process eligible individuals in the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) program to pursue their asylum cases in the U.S., working closely with the Government of Mexico, as well as international and non-governmental organizations,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.
The program was a Trump administration policy that sought to control the humanitarian crisis at the southern border by returning immigrants to Mexico to await immigration proceedings outside of the United States.
“MPP will help restore a safe and orderly immigration process, decrease the number of those taking advantage of the immigration system, and the ability of smugglers and traffickers to prey on vulnerable populations, and reduce threats to life, national security, and public safety, while ensuring that vulnerable populations receive the protections they need,” a Department of Homeland Security press release said at the time.
The announcement confirms last week’s DHS announcement, which Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said would bring the country’s immigration laws more in line with “our nation’s values.”
“As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Mayorkas said. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values. Especially at the border, however, where capacity constraints remain serious, changes will take time.”
“This is a crucial first step to communicate our respect for human rights and human dignity, which includes abiding by legal processes and health and safety protocols,” the White House statement said.
The new policy only applies to those who were returned to Mexico under the program and have open cases with the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The administration will be rolling out a virtual registration process, after which they will be told where and when to enter the country.
“Individuals should not approach the border until instructed to do so,” the White House said. “If you seek entry into the U.S. and do not have an active MPP case, you will be immediately expelled and will not be permitted to remain in the United States.”
The White House warned that people not covered under the new policy should not take the risk of attempting a border crossing.
“People who attempt to cross the border without going through ports of entry should understand that you are putting yourselves and your families in danger, especially during a global pandemic,” the White House said.