US formally ends Trump's 'remain in Mexico' asylum policy

Asylum-seeking migrants' families from Venezuela board an US Border Patrol's bus to be transported into the United States from Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, on May 27, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States has formally ended the Trump-era "remain in Mexico" policy, which forced tens of thousands of Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for US court cases, according to a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo sent to agency leaders on Tuesday (June 1).

The administration of President Joe Biden paused the programme, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), shortly after he took office on Jan 20.

Since then, more than 11,000 migrants enrolled in it have been allowed to enter the United States to pursue asylum claims, a DHS official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Biden, a Democrat, has reversed many of the restrictive immigration policies of former President Donald Trump, a Republican, saying Trump failed to honour US asylum laws.

Republicans have criticised Biden's actions, including ending the MPP programme, saying he encouraged an increase in migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border in recent months.

In a Feb 2 executive order, Biden called for US agencies to review the MPP programme and consider whether to terminate it.

The memo formally ending the MPP programme, issued by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, said the programme did not "adequately or sustainably enhance border management," noting that border arrests increased at times while the program remained in place.

"Moreover, in making my assessment, I share the belief that we can only manage migration in an effective, responsible, and durable manner if we approach the issue comprehensively, looking well beyond our own borders," Mayorkas wrote.

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