DHS, DOJ announce plans to restart migrant asylum hearings

DHS, DOJ announce plans to restart migrant asylum hearings
The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security on Friday announced plans to resume hearings for migrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S., as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The MPP program requires migrants to wait in Mexico until their hearings can be completed. But the coronavirus outbreak has put immigration proceedings on hold since March, forcing hundreds of migrants to camp out at the border in the interim.

  • “To lend greater certainty in a fluid COVID-19 environment, DHS has maintained close contact with the Department of State (DOS) and the Government of Mexico (GOM) and worked with DOJ to identify public health criteria to determine when hearings may resume swiftly and safely,” a press release read on Friday.

The state of play: DHS will require stipulations be met for hearings to proceed, including:

  • California, Arizona and Texas advancing to the Phase 3 of their respective re-openings.
  • The Department of State and CDC must lower global health advisories to Level 2, “and/or a comparable change in health advisories, regarding Mexico in particular.”
  • The Mexican government’s “stoplight” system must categorize Mexican border states as “yellow.”

Once criteria are met, the administration will hold socially distanced MPP hearings for those on the backlog, mandating face masks and temperature-checks. The departments will provide public notification at least 15 calendar days before the resumption of hearings with location details, CNN reports.

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