The Federal Government has started returning non-Mexican migrants who claim asylum, after illegally entering the United States at the Texas border city of Laredo, back to Mexico. These returns mark the first expansion of the "Remain in Mexico" policy since the U.S. and Mexico brokered a deal to avert additional tariffs being placed on the country.
Customs and Border Protection officials were slated to make the first returns on Tuesday, a Department of Homeland Security official told CBS News. Ten people had been returned so far, according to a Mexican official. This means the U.S. government will now send immigrants who illegally enter the country hoping to claim asylum, mostly from Central America, back to the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas.
The policy, which is being challenged in court, has been under scrutiny from mass-immigration advocates, Democrats, and those who support open borders. They argue the policy violates international law and puts asylum seekers at risk, especially those who have already subjected themselves to the dangerous trip from South America to the U.S. Southern Border. In an attempt to prevent more asylum seekers from disappearing into the United States as they await their immigration court date, to which approximately 90% do not appear, the policy has come under fire as those who support mass-immigration argue that the conditions in Mexico are not up to par with what is expected for migrants.
According to CBS, by implementing the policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), at the Laredo port of entry, the Trump administration is fulfilling its pledge to expand the program along the entire southern border as part of an effort to deter migrants from Central America. Currently, the policy is also in place at ports of entry in El Paso, Calexico, and San Diego — where it made its debut last December under former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. More than 18,500 asylum seekers have returned from these ports of entry to wait in Mexico for their dates in U.S. courts, according to figures by the Mexican government.
After the deal was brokered, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the "full-blown" expansion of MPP a "big deal" in the government's efforts to curb the flow of migration from Central American countries. In May, apprehensions at the southern border hit a 13-year high. The number of apprehensions in June, however, is expected to decrease significantly because of Mexico's amped-up immigration enforcement and the sweltering summer heat. Researchers will most likely have to wait several months to determine if the drop in apprehensions is caused by Mexico stepping up its enforcement efforts, or if it is simply following the trend of immigration dropping during the summer months then returning to higher levels as fall and winter set in.