On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of strict asylum restrictions that the Trump administration imposed before they left power. As the Center for Constitutional Rights explained in a press release, these restrictions “categorically denied asylum to anyone at the southern border who had transited through a third country en route to the United States, with very limited exceptions.” In other words, the Trump administration wanted to restrict asylum-seekers who arrived at the U.S. border with Mexico if they started their journey anywhere other than Mexico.
The Trump administration repeatedly sought to restrict asylum, including through agreements with Central American countries to house individuals who might otherwise make their way to the United States. The Trump administration also implemented a “Remain in Mexico” policy under which asylum-seekers had to wait in Mexico while their cases moved through the U.S. system. In this case, regarding the blocked asylum restrictions, Baher Azmy — who serves as legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights — commented as follows:
‘The court rightly rejected the Trump administration’s cruel, last-ditch effort to destroy our asylum system. We expect the Biden administration to engage quickly and meaningfully to repair the vast harm the Trump administration imposed on vulnerable immigrants and this country’s commitment to human rights.’
On Monday, the San Antonio Express-News reported that “Tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico… will soon be able to enter the United States to pursue their cases,” according to the Biden administration. According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security last week, about 25,000 asylum cases are currently active in the “Remain in Mexico” program, meaning that thousands of people could receive assistance in getting out of dangerous conditions upon the program’s end.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas commented as follows regarding the Biden administration’s dealings around the “Remain in Mexico” program:
‘This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values. Especially at the border, however, where capacity constraints remain serious, changes will take time.’
The Biden administration has already taken on other key Trump policies. Among other examples, Biden ordered an end to construction of the physical barriers at the southern U.S. border that constituted Trump’s so-called wall.