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US sends first migrants to Mexico under revived Trump-era policy

Two migrants were the first asylum seekers to be returned by the US to Mexico following the reactivation of the “Stay in Mexico” policy, a migrant group said Thursday.

The two men arrived Wednesday at a border crossing that connects Ciudad Juarez in Mexico with El Paso, Texas under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy that was recently reinstated by the Biden administration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Thursday.

“After being received by Mexican immigration authorities and obtaining the proper immigration documentation, they underwent COVID-19 tests and were transferred by IOM staff to one of the shelters in the city,” it said.

The MPP program allows officials to send non-Mexican migrants to Mexico to await US immigration court hearings.

Although US President Joe Biden pledged to end the program that was a signature immigration policy of former President Donald Trump, a federal judge in Texas ordered the administration to revive the policy. The ruling was ratified weeks later by the US Supreme Court.

Since the program was instituted in 2019 and until January 2021, more than 71,000 people, including at least 16,000 children and 500 infants, have been placed in the program and ended up in border cities with high rates of violence, including Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put in changes for its reimplementation on Dec. 2 and said migrants would be provided with transportation in Mexico to attend court hearings.

DHS specified that accompanied minors, permanent residents, those with criminal records or health problems would not qualify for the program.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that although DHS put in place changes to “improve humanitarian components,” the administration still feels the program is “inhumane.”

​​The IOM urged that the program be terminated as soon as possible saying it is “inhumane and contrary to international law.”

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