The Biden White House announced that it will begin processing select eligible asylum cases submitted to the U.S. government, the latest step in the new administration’s bid to end the crackdown on asylum seekers as part of former President Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Announced in a press release, the Biden administration confirmed that case processing will begin on Feb. 19, but the statement adds that U.S. borders are currently not open.
“We caution people seeking to immigrate to the United States that our borders are not open, and that this is just the first phase in the administration’s work to reopen access to an orderly asylum process,” the statement reads.
The new process will apply to individuals who were previously returned to Mexico under the MPP program and have cases still pending in the Executive Office for Immigration Review. These individuals were remanded to Mexico while waiting for their asylum applications to be reviewed.
While this is a proactive step towards revitalizing the stalled asylum process, members of the Biden administration said that restructuring the immigration system will take time.
“Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement, per Politico. “Due to the current pandemic, restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced.”
Immigrants and asylum seekers without active or pending cases will still need to await admission into the U.S.
“President Biden is committed to immigration reform in the long term, but it will take time. The immigration reform legislation that President Biden sent to the Congress only applies to individuals who were in the United States before January 1, 2021,” the statement echoed.