USA postpones "Remain in Mexico" hearings due to coronavirus

A vehicle enters a Canadian border station at the U.S./Canada border after the two countries closed their border for all non-essential travel in Lansdowne Ontario

A spokesperson for the Executive Office for Immigration Review within the department told CBS News the decision would allow the department to protect migrants, officials and U.S. citizens from the coronavirus and allow the migrants to have their "day in court". The U.S. Supreme Court allowed that program to remain in effect last week pending the outcome of a legal challenge.

In a bid to slash asylum claims, the administration of President Donald Trump had launched an initiative in January 2019 that has forced more than 57,000 non-Mexican migrants to wait in Mexico for their United States immigration court hearings. The restrictions, which the administration said were necessary because of the pandemic, bar the entry of migrants without proper documents, even at ports of entry.

Although officials did not specify whether asylum seekers in the MPP policy would be allowed inside the United States to attend their hearings in light of the new measures, immigration lawyers reported Monday morning migrants from the program were denied entry.

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Flanked by top USA officials at the White House, Trump also said the United States and Mexico would work to keep commerce moving as much as possible across the border to try to limit disruptions to business.

The Justice Department canceled all hearings for immigrants not detained as the outbreak sweeps the country, but it has received criticism for not closing most courts or postponing hearings for those who are detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In some cases, migrant families have opted to send children across the US-Mexico border alone. It has resulted in the creation of makeshift camps where hundreds of migrants have waited for weeks, if not months, in squalid and unsafe conditions. He said he and other lawyers who are representing asylum-seekers in the MPP program had been dreading telling their clients they would not go to court with them or visit them in Mexico, fearing community transmission of the coronavirus. "They are stuck in a disgusting situation in Mexico".

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