The U.S. has expanded the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “remain in Mexico” program. This program now includes the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border but lacks the infrastructure at that site to implement the program. Under this program, the U.S. sends migrants seeking asylum back to Mexico to have their asylum applications processed and await their asylum hearings. Confusion about the MPP program is abundant among migrants. The situation has become even more complicated for migrants as the federal government has ended the practice of providing immigrants with information about the asylum process and the immigration court system. As of late June, the government no longer allows attorneys or immigration advocates to conduct “know your rights” seminars to immigrants before their first asylum hearings. During July, the federal government cut off access to advocates or “friends of the court” to accompany immigrants to court hearings, who often explained basic procedures or provided translation services.
To effectively implement the MPP program in El Paso, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are searching for locations to erect “virtual immigration courtrooms.” This move would allow them to hold more immigration court hearings. These tents or temporary, soft-sided structures would allow immigrants to have hearings in front of immigration judges via video conferencing. Each tent facility would house between 20 and 27 virtual courtrooms, all of which would process cases for individuals seeking asylum.
Federal officials reportedly are looking at locations in Brownsville, TX, Laredo, TX, and Yuma, AZ for these temporary structures. Local officials in Laredo are trying to persuade the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to utilize existing structures rather than erect large tents. DHS reportedly hopes to have these structured erected and operational in August 2019. Meanwhile, the population of migrants sent back to Mexico after submitting their asylum applications has swelled from about 2,800 to 7,600 in recent months. An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 399-2311 today and see how we can help.