The first small group of asylum-seekers to be allowed into the United States under the Biden administration’s recent changes will come into the country Friday through a U.S.-Mexico border crossing in south San Diego County.
The asylum-seekers who will be allowed into the U.S. are waiting for courts to decide on their active immigration cases. Now, instead of having to wait in Mexico as their cases are processed, they will be allowed to wait in the U.S.
The crossings will begin gradually.
The Biden administration has not yet specified which U.S-Mexico border crossings will be used for this, but U.S. officials said two of the crossings can each process about 300 asylum-seekers daily, although the initial groups will be smaller.
To start, a limited number of asylum-seekers who have been stuck in Mexico will be allowed into the U.S. through a border crossing in San Diego starting on Feb. 19. The plan will expand into Brownsville, Texas, on Feb. 22 and El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 26.
Under former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy signed in January 2019, there are an estimated 70,000 asylum-seekers stuck in Mexico.
U.S. officials said 25,000 of those asylum-seekers have active immigration cases and, after going through the proper process, will be allowed into the U.S. under these changes.
U.S. officials said those with active cases as well as several hundred asylum-seekers who are appealing decisions should register on a website that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is launching early next week.
U.S. officials said asylum-seekers shouldn’t show up at border crossings expecting to come into the U.S. if they’re not among those who have active immigration cases. The government send notifications on where and how to cross to asylum-seekers who are eligible.
The International Organization for Migration, the U.N. migration agency, plans to test asylum-seekers for COVID-19 and will quarantine anyone who tests positive for 10 days before they enter the United States, the Associated Press reports.
Once the first group of asylum-seekers arrive in the U.S. Friday morning, some San Diego-based outreach groups plan to offer help.
NBC 7 will be following this story all day. Check back for updates.