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Remain in Mexico Program Reinstated

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On December 2, 2021 the Biden Administration reinstated the “remain in Mexico” policy wherein migrants seeking to enter the US will have to remain in Mexico as they await immigration hearings. President Biden had originally stopped the policy, but lawsuits by Texas and Missouri forced him to put the policy back into effect, subject to Mexico’s approval.

Mexico’s conditions for accepting the policy were: COVID-19 vaccinations  for migrants, more protection in dangerous cities, and better access to attorneys and quicker resolutions of cases. To keep up with Mexico’s conditions the following will be done.

All migrants subject to the policy will be vaccinated against COVID-19. Adults will get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one shot. Children who are eligible under U.S. guidelines will get the Pfizer shot, with second shots when they come to the U.S. for their first hearings.

The U.S. will try to complete cases within 180 days, a response to Mexico’s concerns that they will languish. The Justice Department is assigning 22 immigration judges to work on these cases exclusively.

U.S. authorities will ask migrants if they fear being returned to Mexico instead of relying on them to raise concerns unprompted. If the migrants express fear, they will be screened and have 24 hours to find an attorney or representative.

The Biden administration is working to ensure migrants’ safety when they travel to and from court, including within Mexico. Some migrants returned from Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville, where Mexican border cities are especially dangerous, will be moved to locations farther inside Mexico.

The policy will apply to migrants from Western Hemisphere countries, except Mexicans, who are exempt.

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