President Donald Trump has given the boot to the first group of asylum seekers.
The president has sent them packing back to Mexico as part of a new policy which has asylum seekers wait in Mexico for their cases to be adjudicated, The Daily Mail reported.
The United States sent the first Central American asylum seeker back to Mexico through a crossing at the border city of Tijuana on Tuesday, Mexican authorities said, as part of the Trump administration’s hardened immigration policy.
The return of a Honduran man was carried out under a U.S. policy dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) by which the United States will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in U.S. immigration courts.
The United States is not expected to send any other Central American migrants to Mexico on Tuesday, said a Mexican immigration official, who asked not to be identified.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman confirmed earlier in the day that the United States would begin sending migrants back to Mexico on Tuesday.
Mexican officials had initially expected the transfers to begin on Friday. The interior ministry identified the returned Honduran migrant as Carlos Gomez, 55, who entered Mexico last year and has been given a humanitarian visa to remain in Mexico through late November.
Asylum seekers have traditionally been granted the right to stay in the United States while their cases were decided by an immigration judge, but a backlog of more than 800,000 cases means the process can take years.
U.S. authorities are expected to send as many as 20 people per day through the Mexican border city of Tijuana and gradually start sending people back through the other legal ports of entry, Mexico’s foreign ministry has said.
CNN reported that the policy started when the first migrant was sent back.
The man held a backpack in one hand and a folder in the other.
Reporters swarmed around him as Mexican immigration officials whisked him into a van and drove away.
The chaotic scene of one Honduran migrant stepping foot on Mexican soil Tuesday marked the beginning of a major change in US policy.
More than a month after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the United States would force some asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases make their way through US immigration courts, and days after officials revealed the policy would begin, the Trump administration’s new measure apparently began with one migrant returned back over the border.
It was unclear how many others would follow.
Rodulfo Figueroa, a representative from Mexico’s National Migration Institute, told reporters after the man’s arrival that the United States wouldn’t be sending any more migrants to Mexico on Tuesday. A Department of Homeland Security official confirmed that one person had been returned to Mexico under the new policy, and that others would be processed Wednesday and for the remainder of the week.
The policy’s official debut at the San Ysidro Port of Entry came as Nielsen visited the port.
On Tuesday morning, a CNN team in Tijuana observed a group of about 35 migrants loaded onto official vehicles bound for the United States. Hours later, a single man returned to the Tijuana side. It wasn’t clear how long he’d been in the United States.
Figueroa said that man carried a Mexican humanitarian visa and had an appointment to return to the United States to continue the asylum process. The man was part of a migrant caravan that entered Mexico in November, Figueroa said. His name was not available.
Administration officials say the new policy “will help restore a safe and orderly immigration process, decrease the number of those taking advantage of the immigration system, and the ability of smugglers and traffickers to prey on vulnerable populations, and reduce threats to life, national security, and public safety, while ensuring that vulnerable populations receive the protections they need.”