White House Announces New Migrant Processing Program as GOP Warns of Worsening Border Crisis

February 16, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

The White House said Tuesday it has come up with a new asylum-processing program, changing former President Donald Trump’s policy of sending illegal immigrants to Mexico to await the results of their cases.

“Starting February 19, the United States will begin to process eligible individuals in the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) program to pursue their asylum cases in the U.S., working closely with the Government of Mexico, as well as international and non-governmental organizations,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday.

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) keeps migrants in Mexico as they wait for their immigration hearings.

“Individuals should not take any action at this time and should remain where they are to await further instructions. We will soon announce a virtual registration process that will be accessible from any location,” the White House said in a statement. “Once registered, eligible individuals will be provided additional information about where and when to present themselves. Individuals should not approach the border until instructed to do so.”

Last week, over 50 House Republicans warned President Joe Biden of a looming immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is not a political game—we implore you not let ideology blind your Administration to the need to secure the border, to defend Americans, and to prevent another cartel-empowering humanitarian crisis,” their letter to Biden read.

The surge in migration has come in the midst of Biden’s policy shift toward immigration, as compared with the Trump administration.

The president last month announced that the administration would stop the construction of the wall at the southern border, proposed a pathway for citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, did away with the MPP, and sought to impose a moratorium on deportations. A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction to reverse the 100-day moratorium on deportations.

The Department of Homeland Security said in 2019 that the MPP would “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.”

But on Jan. 20, on the day of Biden’s inauguration, the DHS said that the agency will “cease adding individuals into the program,” adding that those who are in the program to “remain where they are, pending further official information from U.S. government officials.”

The agency at the time also advised that migrants currently on their way to the United States will not be eligible for a path to citizenship under an immigration reform proposal known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.