HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) —As border apprehension numbers continue to rise, what to do with all the asylum seekers is a challenging issue facing lawmakers. But how did we get to this point?
In March 2020, Title 42 was put in place, which is an agreement between Canada and Mexico that stopped non-essential travel, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 but it also affected asylum seekers.
“We did see that all single adults, who were trying to claim asylum trying to come across, were immediately sent back to Mexico,” said Sandra Sanchez, Border Correspondent. “Family units were sent back to Mexico.”
In July 2019, the Trump Administration implemented Migrant Protection Protocol program or the Remain in Mexico Program for the migrants trying to enter through South Texas.
“The unaccompanied migrant minor children, the Trump administration did allow some of them to come across, but then they started to use Title 42 as an excuse for not accepting them,” said Sanchez.
This resulted in lawsuits filed by migrant advocacy humanitarian groups.
“In November 2020, the District Court blocked the Trump administration of Title 42 to all unaccompanied children. Basically what the court says is ‘no you can’t do that. You cannot use this pandemic as a pretext to disregard the legal obligations of all these unaccompanied children’,” said Margie Villalobos an immigration attorney from Villalobos Law Firm.
Since Biden has taken office he has suspended MPP for 100 days, which allowed thousands who were in the program to enter the U.S., but Title 42 remains in place.
“Single adults are not allowed to come in,” explained Sanchez. ” If they try to come they are immediately sent back, families with older children… same thing.”
Before Biden took office, Mexico adopted a new law that stops them from accepting young migrant children in their detention facilities.
“We started here in South Texas to notice all of a sudden the paroling of families with very young children. It’s still uncertain what that age is. At first, we were told by lawmakers it was children under 13 now, it looks like it’s under 7,” said Sanchez.
Bylaws put into place by Congress in 1980, unaccompanied children do have the right to come into the country to seek asylum.
The Biden administration is not expected to reimplement the Remain in Mexico Program but has not introduced a policy that would replace it.