The United States is implementing a new policy for asylum seekers that could slow the wave of families showing up at our southern border from Central American countries.
Instead of allowing those applying for asylum to remain in the U.S., they are being sent across the border to Mexico to wait until their requests are processed.
The policy, called the Migrant Protection Protocol, was announced by the Department of Homeland Security to curb the increasing number of families arriving — mostly from Central America — who say they fear returning to their home countries due to alleged threats of violence.
The MPP is the start of a major policy shift by the Trump administration.
“We have implemented an unprecedented action that will address the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. “For far too long, our immigration system has been exploited by smugglers, traffickers, and those who have no legal rights to remain in the United States.”
She said the initiative represents a “methodical commonsense approach to exercising our statutory authority to require certain individuals to await their court proceedings in Mexico.”
Previously, about 40 percent of asylum seekers never bothered to show up for their court hearing. That will now change as almost all of those looking to stay in the U.S. will have to wait in Mexico for their cases to be adjudicated.
It will be a while. The current backlog in immigration courts is up to five years.
DHS said the program will apply to arriving migrants who ask for asylum at ports of entry or those who are caught attempting to cross illegally and say they are afraid to return home.
Unaccompanied minors and some migrants from “vulnerable populations” could be excluded on a case-by-case basis. It does not apply to children traveling alone or to asylum seekers from Mexico.
“The MPP will provide a safer and more orderly process that will discourage individuals from attempting illegal entry and making false claims to stay in the U.S., and allow more resources to be dedicated to individuals who legitimately qualify for asylum,” the DHS said.
The president has ordered more immigration judges to be hired, but with 800,000 cases to be heard, the wait will be unavoidable.
The policy became necessary because there was a whopping 67 percent increase in asylum seekers in 2018 compared to 2017. Many of those coming to the U.S. today are families and unaccompanied minors, largely from Honduras., Nicaragua, and Guatemala. The Trump administration is trying to limit asylum to those who are legitimately in danger from drug gangs and other criminal elements, but vetting the new arrivals will be a long, laborious process.
The new policy is being opposed by the usual suspects — advocates for illegal aliens and open borders supporters. But if it discourages people from making the long, dangerous trek to the U.S., it will be well worth it from a security standpoint as well as a humanitarian perspective.