And so it begins. On Tuesday President Donald Trump’s administration shipped the first asylum seeker back to Tijuana, Mexico, to wait patiently until his asylum hearing later this year.
The move was part of the administration’s new “Migration Protection Protocols” policy, or “Remain in Mexico” for short. It was announced last month by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates. Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico,” she said in a statement at the time.
“‘Catch and release’ will be replaced with ‘catch and return.’ In doing so, we will reduce illegal migration by removing one of the key incentives that encourages people from taking the dangerous journey to the United States in the first place. This will also allow us to focus more attention on those who are actually fleeing persecution.”
Now meet Carlos Catarldo Gomez of Honduras, who became the first asylum seeker to be shipped to Mexico, where he’s reportedly been granted the right to stay til November:
The first asylum seeker to be returned to the US under President Trumps Remain in Mexico program, Carlos Catarlo Gomez from Honduras crossed in to Mexico from the US at the El Chapparal port of entry by San Diego on Tuesday. #remaininmexico pic.twitter.com/OhPmg7Cuoz
— John Gibbins (@JohnGibbinsSDUT) January 29, 2019
He’s reportedly scheduled for an asylum hearing in San Diego later in the year.
Prior to the implementation of this policy, the administration used to assign court dates to asylum seekers — including those who crossed into the U.S. illegally instead of seeking out a valid port of entry — and then release them into U.S. neighborhoods and communities.
Then when their court dates would arrive, the asylum seekers would never show up, presumably because they knew their phony claims would be rejected, and instead disappear into American society.
“Over the last five years, DHS has seen a 2000 percent increase in aliens claiming credible fear (the first step to asylum), as many know it will give them an opportunity to stay in our country, even if they do not actually have a valid claim to asylum,” DHS notes.
“As a result, the United States has an overwhelming asylum backlog of more than 786,000 pending cases. Last year alone the number of asylum claims soared 67 percent compared to the previous year. Most of these claims are not meritorious—in fact, nine out of ten asylum claims are not granted by a federal immigration judge.”
By forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, the administration hopes to disincentivize foreigners who merely seek jobs or schooling from trying to game the system like this.
The shipping of asylum seekers back to Mexico had initially been scheduled to begin last Friday but was delayed for unclear reasons. According to The Fresno Bee, the administration’s goal is to ship 20 asylum seekers per day and 100 per week for a trial period of 90 days.
The trial run will reportedly only occur in the San Diego area for now. It’s unclear if it will later be expanded to cover every major metropolitan area that lines the southern U.S. border.
What’s also unclear is whether this new policy will also apply to families.
Tonatiuh Guillen, the commissioner of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, reportedly said Mexico would only accept asylum seekers aged 18 to 60, meaning families with young kids wouldn’t be eligible.
But according to the Bee, last Friday the spokesperson for Mexico’s foreign relations secretary said otherwise, suggesting that Mexico would accept families on a case by case basis.
However, for now only single adults will be shipped back to Mexico, according to the Bee: “[A] Mexican official with direct knowledge of the process said Mexico requested that families be excluded from the policy but that the U.S. declined to make any commitment, conceding only to start with single adults. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.”
Though the “Remain in Mexico” is clearly being rolled out slowly, the response on social media from conservatives has been one of joy and triumph. The fact that steps are finally being taken to stop the epidemic of asylum fraud is good enough for many of them.
My President ? pic.twitter.com/ljolLzwxlQ
— FIGHTING THE SWAMP ONE DAY AT A TIME ? (@4djt2016) January 30, 2019
RIGHT NOW on @FoxNews Live: “U.S. Sens Group of Migrants Back to Mexico Under New Asylum Policy”
Now THIS is what I would call #Progress
— ?? Great American Becky ?? (@Bexofeasttex) January 30, 2019
That’s what I call a good Start.MAGA and SAFER ❤️❤️
— ? America First ?? (@TruthSoldierz) January 30, 2019
— Deplorable Voter (@newsflashDV) January 30, 2019
Asylum seeker sent back to Mexico under U.S. new policy – Reuters. Thankyou president Trump https://t.co/o7r6CZUixZ
— The real j.kellogg (@JasonKellogg8) January 30, 2019
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