Mexican authorities hope most of the asylum seekers living in a major encampment on the border will be allowed to enter the United States by the end of next week, according to a Mexican government source.
The migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the river from Brownsville, Texas, is currently home to just under 700 migrants, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR).
The majority are asylum seekers who have been waiting in Mexico as their cases wind through U.S. courts under a program implemented by former President Donald Trump.
One week ago, President Joe Biden’s administration began permitting members of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program to enter the United States to pursue their court cases.
The first group of 25 migrants walk to cross the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the U.S., in Matamoros, Mexico are pictured
The migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the river from Brownsville, Texas, is currently home to just under 700
The U.S. government has restarting processing those with active cases made to wait in Mexico during the Trump administration at three border crossing between the two countries
The Gateway International Bridge spans the Rio Grande at the U.S.-Mexico border in Matamoros, Mexico. U.S. immigration authorities have begun allowing some asylum seekers with active cases into the U.S. in a reversal of Trump’s immigration policy
A camp of migrants on the banks of the Rio Grande in Matamoros was a particular priority for the Biden administration and Mexico
UNHCR spokeswoman Silvia Garduño said 27 people crossed the border from Mexico on Thursday and 100 on Friday, and that the agency hopes to continue this pace in the coming days.
The agency, along with the International Organization for Migration, is in charge of the logistics of registering and transporting migrants from the camp to the United States.
The Mexican government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the goal was for 500 migrants in the Matamoros camp to enter the United States by the end of next week.
Mexican authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) referred Reuters to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statement that said the registration process ‘will be done as quickly as possible.’
In Matamoros, asylum seekers expressed optimism.
Several migrants set up tents, in Tijuana, in the state of Baja California. Tijuana, Matamoros and, as of this Friday, Ciudad Juarez, are the three Mexican border points from where migrants are already crossing into the United States for an immigration court to review their asylum cases
The great majority of the 25,000 asylum seekers with active cases who were forced to wait out the process in Mexico under Trump´s so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, still have weeks or months of waiting ahead
The situation is further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced capacity at shelters that provide a degree of safety for migrants
After waiting months and sometimes years in Mexico, people seeking asylum in the United States are being allowed into the country
The people were told to wait in Mexico for American courts to decide on their cases. The relaxing in policy unwinds one of the Trump administration’s signature immigration policies that President Joe Biden vowed to end
Migrants react as they walk towards the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the U.S. The majority are asylum seekers had been waiting in Mexico as their cases wind through U.S. courts under a program implemented by former President Donald Trump which saw them ‘Remain In Mexico’
Last week President Joe Biden’s administration began permitting members of the Migrant Protection Protocols program to enter the United States to pursue their court cases
A migrant child is being carried by a Mexican municipal worker while crossing the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the U.S. in Matamoros, Mexico
‘We’ve just received news that tomorrow we’re leaving!’ said Honduran asylum seeker Josue Cornejo in a video recorded inside the camp on Friday evening, which also shows his wife and daughters wiping away tears.
But as one tent city begins to empty in northeastern Mexico, another has sprung up on the other side of the country. In Tijuana, migrants encouraged by the news that some asylum seekers were being allowed to enter the United States have begun to camp out near the El Chaparral port of entry, across the border from San Diego, California. Advocates say about 50 tents have been put up in recent days.
Biden, a Democrat, is balancing pressure from immigration advocates to unwind the hardline immigration policies of his predecessor with concerns about rising numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. To handle an anticipated rise in crossings, CBP said in a statement on Friday that it planned to open a facility in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Plans for the new facility come after CBP announced on Feb. 9 the opening of another temporary facility in Donna, Texas, to handle border processing while the agency’s permanent center in McAllen is renovated.
A woman carries a child, as migrants walk to cross the Gateway International Bridge to the U.S.
A Mexican government source has said the goal was for 500 migrants in the Matamoros camp to enter the United States by the end of next week
Under U.S. law, children who arrive at the border without parents or legal guardians have to be transferred quickly out of border patrol facilities and into government-run shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Separately, HHS is also scrambling to cope with the influx of new arrivals by opening emergency shelters and trying to speed releases of migrant kids to sponsors in the United States.
‘There are no good choices here,’ Biden told reporters on Friday. ‘The only other options are to send kids back, which is what the prior administration did.’
Most migrants caught at the border, including families and individual adult asylum seekers, are still being rapidly expelled at the border under a Trump-era health rule in place since last March.
Migrants pray before crossing the Gateway International Bridge to be processed as they seek asylum in the U.S.
Migrants leave their camp and head towards the Gateway International Bridge to be processed as they seek asylum in the US
Migrants stand in lines on the U.S. side of the Gateway International Bridge as they wait to be processed