25 asylum-seekers who were waiting in Mexico released in US

Posted at 7:16 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-20 00:12:52-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The U.S. government released 25 asylum-seekers in the United States with notices to appear in court, ending their long waits in Mexico.

The move Friday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry marks a milestone in unraveling a key policy of former President Donald Trump to deter asylum.

The Biden administration’s plan cuts down Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), a policy enacted out of fear that migrants released in the U.S. were not attending their court dates.

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Syracuse University researchers analyzed Department of Justice data and found that 76% of asylum-seeking families at the border attended all of their hearings. The study also found that families that had a lawyer to help navigate the process was even higher at 99%.

Jewish Family Service of San Diego says the asylum-seekers were released in San Diego after testing negative for COVID-19 in Mexico and were being taken to San Diego hotels to quarantine.

U.S. authorities expect to release 25 people a day in San Diego. People also are expected to be let into the country starting next week in Brownsville and El Paso, Texas.

Some have waited in Mexico for years for the opportunity to enter the U.S. Vannesa Garcia, who is from Honduras, has been living in a hostel in Tijuana with her 3-year-old son. Garcia said she has been waiting a long time for a response.

“Quite a long time we’ve been patiently waiting,” Garcia said.

One migrant, Noemi, said the new plan gives hope to those fearful for their lives.

“I came here with my four children, and the truth is, we can’t go back to Guatemala because if we do I’m afraid they will kill me and my children,” Noemi said.

Officials are warning people not to come to the border, saying an estimated 25,000 people with active cases in the "Remain in Mexico" program should register online.