EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – President Joe Biden’s administration is actively rolling back Trump-era hardline immigration policies that discouraged migration to the United States.
Local officials expect to see the early results of those efforts as refugees who have mainly waited in Mexico for months to enter the U.S. will be let in at three ports of entry along the Southwestern border.
On Friday, 25 refugees will be allowed into El Paso, marking a shift in policies between the current and prior administrations. Refugees will also be allowed to enter through Brownsville and the San Ysidro ports of entry.
The refugees being allowed into the United States had been placed into the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols program, which is also known as Remain in Mexico.
Ruben Garcia, the executive director of Annunciation House, says the local nonprofit and a network of volunteers are prepared to accommodate refugees.
He and local officials say they expect to receive 25 people Monday through Friday and not on weekends. There is an expectation that the number will increase to 50 and then 75 by the end of March.
Annunciation House shelters are prepared to provide social distancing between refugees and provide sanitization resources for people in their care. There are also plans to address COVID concerns, he added.
“If someone were to test positive, we have a location we’re working with the Office of Emergency Management, where we can transfer them to where they can be quarantined,” Garcia said. “So, everyone will get a hygiene kit that will include a bottle of hand sanitizer to use with children.”
Melissa Lopez, a local immigration attorney and executive director of the Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, said there will be a close eye on how to help people with legal consultation as the process unfolds.
“So, the whole point of this program is to give people the opportunity to apply for asylum and if this process in terms of that one piece of paper is not processed correctly we could see thousands of people with deportation orders,” she said.