Building on a series of Executive Orders last week, the Biden Administration is announcing another step in our phased strategy to reform the nation’s immigration system. Beginning on February 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin phase one of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border. DHS will begin processing people who had been forced to “remain in Mexico” under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Approximately 25,000 individuals in MPP continue to have active cases.
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. 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.
“As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values. Especially at the border, however, where capacity constraints remain serious, changes will take time. Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border. Due to the current pandemic, restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced.”
Through a whole-of-government approach, DHS, the Department of State, and the Department of Justice will collaborate with international partners—including the Government of Mexico and international and non-governmental organizations—to safely process eligible individuals to pursue their cases in the United States.
This new process applies to individuals who were returned to Mexico under the MPP program and have cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Individuals outside of the United States who were not returned to Mexico under MPP or who do not have active immigration court cases will not be considered for participation in this program and should await further instructions. Similarly, those individuals in the United States with active MPP cases will receive separate guidance at a later date.
This announcement should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States. Eligible individuals will only be allowed to enter through designated ports of entry at designated times. We will provide instructions in the coming days for how individuals with active MPP cases may remotely register for in-processing. We will continue to enforce U.S. immigration law and border security measures throughout this process.
The United States and our partners will employ all necessary safety precautions in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, including mandatory face coverings and social distancing. Individuals processed through this program will be tested for COVID-19 before entering the United States. DHS will only process individuals consistent with its capacity to safely do so while fully executing its important national security and trade and travel facilitation missions.