The Trump administration has decided to postpone all immigration hearings until at least April 22nd amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, it has not suspended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain in Mexico policy.
The MPP policies have been moving throughout the US court system. Many see them as illegal, as they require asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await their hearings. For a variety of reasons, this can be very dangerous for an asylum seeker. Border camps along the US/Mexico border are full of thousands of migrants who want to enter the US. Conditions of the camps have always been a hot topic. However, the fear of coronavirus has solidified those concerns.
What do I do now?
The coronavirus outbreak has led to harsh criticism of the MPP policies. The camps are seen as a dangerous breeding ground for the virus. In addition, Trump’s move to postpone the hearings is controversial. Although, it is in order to protect immigration officials judges and the general public. However, asylum seekers must go to their port of entry judicial court on the date of their hearing. This is in order to receive a tear sheet. This sheet allows them to adhere to the MPP and remain in Mexico. However, this movement of asylum seekers to and from judicial courts and border camps could still result in spreading the virus. In addition, The poor and unsanitary conditions in the border camps would put asylum seekers at higher risk if they contracted the disease.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review state:
Any individual with an MPP hearing date through April 22 should present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates. DHS and EOIR are deeply committed to ensuring that individuals ‘have their day in court’ while also ensuring the health and safety of aliens, our frontline officers, immigration court professionals, and our citizens.
It is important to note that this situation is constantly evolving. We will be posting additional information on asylum and the coronavirus as it becomes available. Follow our blog to learn more.