Asylum-seekers express optimism over Biden presidency, confusion about their status


A man holds a sign reading We have the right to live like you during a protest of migrants and human rights activists against US and Mexican migration policies at the San Ysidro crossing port, in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on the border with the US, on October 21, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. – With the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), asylum seekers were forced to remain in Mexico while their migration cases were processed. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, US authorities suspended most asylum procedures leaving thousands of migrants stranded along the border. (Photo by Guillermo Arias / AFP) (Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

TIJUANA (Border Report) — President Joe Biden has brought optimism to asylum-seekers living in shelters south of the border as they anxiously await permission to finally venture into the U.S. and begin their court proceedings.

But according to Albert Rivera, who runs one of the shelters, migrants were confused by Biden’s “vague” executive order to remove the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, also called the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that starting Thursday, it would pause deportations for certain non-citizens of the United States for 100 days, and it will stop new enrollments in the MPP program.

But according to Rivera, asylum-seekers aren’t sure how they fit in with the new policy.

“There are great expectations because here in the shelter there’s people who have been waiting for a long time, some for years waiting for asylum, most have appointments in U.S. courts, but because of COVID-19, those dates have been postponed,” Rivera said. “The 80 or so migrants here, most of them from Central America, still don’t know when the policy will actually end.”

Under Biden’s plan, millions of undocumented immigrants would have a path toward citizenship.

They would have to meet certain prerequisites such as a history of paying taxes and have no criminal records before getting “protective status,” followed by a green card in five years and ultimately citizenship three years later.

But it only applies to people already in the country. Rivera says the asylum-seekers in his shelter are uneasy about being eligible.

“If they can’t get to the U.S. any time soon, will they be able to become legal later on?”

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