PHOENIX — The Department of Homeland Security will begin processing asylum seekers next week, who for the last year, have been living in shelters on the Mexico side of the border with the U.S. The “Remain in Mexico” policy was one of a series of policies by the President Trump administration which effectively ended legal immigration.
Asylum seekers, migrants and immigrants came by the thousands, many of them on foot, claiming to be escaping violence in places like Honduras. Traveling through Mexico, they made it to the U.S. border and that is where the journey stopped.
“Seeing this announcement that there’s an actual date that processing will begin gives them and us immense hope,” says Sara Ritchie of the Kino Border Initiative. The humanitarian group assists migrants who have not been able to enter the United States.
“In Nogales in general we are speculating there are perhaps 200-400 asylum seekers who have been waiting there,” Ritchie says.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates there are 25,000 asylum-seeking immigrants stretched out across the border from Texas to California. Presently, Arizona is not listed as a processing site. The closest one is in El Paso, which is 350 miles away.
“For all the asylum seekers who were returned to Nogales, they were given court dates in Juarez,” Richie said. “So we are speculating they would have to go to Juarez to that port of entry to be able to be processed.”
The Department of Homeland Security says the immigrants will be tested for COVID-19 and other diseases. They won’t be allowed to enter the U.S. if they are infected.
“So Biden just got right back into that bureaucratic, humanitarian open border deal,” said Cochise County rancher John Ladd.
The health precautions are of little comfort to people like Ladd. He shares a 10.5-mile border with Mexico. Ladd sees this latest Biden Administration decision on immigration as an invitation to come to the U.S. whether anyone is invited or not.
“It will just be an open border deal and a free for all of people coming through again,” Ladd said.
Brownsville and El Paso, Texas as well as San Ysidro, California will be the sites for the hearings.