The Biden administration will begin a new process for accepting legal asylees, starting February 19th, for those seeking asylum from the southern U.S. border. Still, the Secretary of Homeland Security said that migrants should avoid traveling across the border until the new system is implemented.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security’s secretary, said that the new administration wanted to implement the program as quickly as possible. Still, he acknowledged that it would be a “significant challenge” to encourage migrants and asylees to wait for a chance to register to avoid a surge of people from the southern border, where many asylum-seekers have been living in camps, waiting for court dates.
The Department of Homeland Security plans on starting to allow asylees, about 300 each day, from an estimated 25,000 people within the Migrant Protection Protocols program.
Former President Trump forced migrants to wait for asylum hearings outside the U.S., which President Biden called “inhumane,” promising a better system.
Officials from Homeland Security said that they began to work on the new system during the transition of power, coordinating with other departments and the Mexican government. Many details of the system itself are still unconfirmed.
Mayorkas said the administration has been rebuilding the asylum system "from scratch."Asylees eligible will first register with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify those who are most vulnerable and those who have been in the refugee camps the longest.
Migrants can find out details of the system through social networks. A senior U.S. official stated that they would be doing many operations in the media, as well as working with international organizations to “reach migrant communities to make sure that people understand who will be eligible for this program and who will not.”
After an initial screening by NGOs – which have not yet been made public – migrants will be given appointments to go through a point of entry, where they will first be tested for Covid-19 and will be provided masks.
Seekers of asylum will be taken to “alternative detention programs” when they enter the country, where their asylum cases will be heard.