Posted on January 8, 2019

Two Weeks Later, No Sign of ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy in Action at San Ysidro Port of Entry

Kate Morrissey, Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2019

More than two weeks after the Trump administration announced a new policy that would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their turns in U.S. immigration court, there is no sign yet at the San Ysidro Port of Entry that it has been implemented.

The Department of Homeland Security said on Dec. 20 that the change was “effective immediately,” but advocacy groups along the border continue to receive large numbers of migrant families who have been released from immigration custody into the U.S. Asylum seekers continue to move through San Ysidro, the busiest port on the southwest border for asylum claims, according to a recent study.


Under the policy, asylum seekers who come either to ports of entry or cross the border illegally would go through preliminary processing before heading back across the border to Mexico with documents showing their next court hearing dates in the U.S. Hundreds of mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence or poverty in their home countries have gathered at the border and are waiting in Tijuana to apply for asylum in the U.S.

Mexico announced that it had decided to temporarily allow asylum seekers waiting for U.S. immigration court hearings to reenter the country and that it would provide humanitarian visas to allow asylum seekers to work while they wait. However, some top Mexican officials quickly said that was not possible. The head of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration said that Mexico would have to change its laws in order to comply with such a policy.


Besides the confusion in Mexico, the proposed change also brought a slew of logistical questions from immigration attorneys, advocates and others who work closely with the U.S. immigration system.

How would the migrants get from the border to immigration court? Would immigration courts along the border be responsible for hearing all of the new asylum cases? How would attorneys meet with their clients before their hearings, or how would migrants even find attorneys to take their cases?

For Everard Meade, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, the delayed rollout is not entirely surprising.

“It’s on pattern with almost everything they’ve tried to do with immigration in the past two years,” Meade said. “They front-load policies that sound very harsh and decisive but also sound like they’re simple when in fact implementation is complicated and much more constrained by the law.”

Peter Nunez, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California who supports lower levels of immigration, said {snip} he believes that asylum seekers should be required to ask for protection in the first country they enter that is not their own.