The Biden administration is still seeking Mexico’s agreement on …


(Redesign of first paragraph, adds report details, background)

By Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 24 (Reuters) – The Biden administration and the Mexican government have yet to come to an agreement on reinstating a Trump-era program that required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings US court, two Mexican government officials said on Wednesday. .

The Axios outlet reported earlier Wednesday that returns under the program, which required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration hearings, could resume as early as next week.

The US Department of Homeland Security said in a statement it was working to resume the program “as quickly as possible” but could not do so without “an independent agreement from the government of Mexico.”

The two Mexican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said talks were underway to determine under what conditions the United States could begin returns.

Mexico insists US provide more COVID-19 aid to migrants, such as vaccinations, more legal aid for asylum seekers, and faster hearings for those participating in the return program , said a senior Mexican official.

The Biden administration – promising to reverse some of former President Donald Trump’s harsh immigration policies – ended the policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols. It forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings before US immigration judges.

But a federal judge ordered the administration to restart the program, saying it did not follow the proper regulatory process. The United States Supreme Court in August dismissed an administration appeal against the lower court’s decision.

At the end of last month, the administration made another attempt -10-29 to end the program, in the hope of addressing the judge’s concerns. But at the same time, the administration said it was taking action to comply with that court’s order.

Immigration advocates said the program exposed migrants to violence and kidnapping in dangerous border towns, where people camped for months or years in shelters or on the streets while awaiting asylum hearings American.

In the negotiations, Mexico wanted to ensure that returns are carried out in a more controlled manner and that particularly vulnerable migrants are excluded, Mexican officials added.

The two Mexican officials also said the Mexican government is trying to secure a US commitment to provide additional support to international organizations that help deal with migrants and shelter along the US-Mexico border. When the program was in place under Trump, a sprawling makeshift camp sprang up on the Mexican side of the border in the dangerous town of Matamoros.

In its report, Axios quoted a homeland security official as saying that politics would initially be restored in El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, as well as San Diego. Axios said the Biden administration will offer asylum seekers the option of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Although Biden sought to overturn some Trump-era immigration policies like this, he has maintained in place a sweeping deportation policy initiated at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy rejects most of the migrants caught crossing the border without giving them the slightest chance to seek asylum. (Reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, Mica Rosenberg in New York and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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