Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, May 18, 2021
As part of negotiations in a federal court case, the Biden administration has agreed to allow up to 7,750 asylum-seekers stranded in Mexico to enter the U.S. each month, the top American Civil Liberties Union lawyer overseeing the lawsuit told CBS News on Monday.
Under the new agreement, the Biden administration has committed to processing up to 250 asylum-seekers deemed to be vulnerable by advocacy groups on a daily basis and permitting them to continue their legal cases on American soil.
Those eligible would be exempted from the Title 42 policy, a Trump-era public health edict under which most single adult migrants and some families with children continue to be expelled from the U.S. without a chance to seek asylum.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been making humanitarian exceptions to the Title 42 rule for months. However, under the agreement, the Biden administration committed to creating “a streamlined process for assessing and addressing” requests to allow vulnerable families with children and adults to enter the U.S., according to Lee Gelernt, who has been leading negotiations on behalf of the ACLU.
Recently, U.S. border officials have been allowing no more than 35 migrant families deemed to be vulnerable in Mexico to enter the U.S per day. So far, 2,000 asylum-seekers have been admitted into the U.S. through the ACLU’s negotiations with the Biden administration, Gelernt added.
The process the Biden administration has committed to expanding is separate fromthat has led to the admission of more than 10,000 asylum-seekers who the Trump administration had previously required to wait in Mexico for their court hearings.
Unlike those asylum-seekers processed under the drawdown of the Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy, the migrants benefiting from the Title 42 exceptions do not have pending court cases, as they were never allowed to seek U.S. refuge.
Despite the exceptions, Biden administration officials have said they will continue the Title 42 policy for the foreseeable future, repeatedly declaring the southern border “is closed.”
During President Biden’s first three full months in office, U.S. officials carried out more than 295,000 Title 42 expulsions along the southern border, expelling 49,000 migrant parents and children traveling as families, according to government data.
In recent weeks, however, U.S. border agents have been allowing most migrant families to stay in the U.S. while their cases are adjudicated, blaming Mexico for refusing to accept families with children under the age of 7 in the state of Tamaulipas.
About 65% of the migrant families encountered along the southern border in April were processed under U.S. immigration laws, rather than expelled under the Title 42 public health authority.