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By Suzanne Gamboa and Julia Ainsley
The US Department of Homeland Security began Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, to enforce its policy of requiring asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while waiting to be heard by the courts. learned NBC News.
A DHS official, who requested anonymity, said that people subject to this policy, called Migrant Protection Protocols by the Trump administration, will have to stay in Mexico as of this week.
The policy began in January at the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego, where migrants were asked to wait in Tijuana, Mexico, while their asylum applications were being processed.
Wait times are now being imposed on migrants trying to cross anywhere in the San Diego area on the border between California and Mexico.
The administration has tried to reduce the number of people crossing the border at ports of entry or entering the United States without legal papers and seeking asylum.
Asylum cases can take months or even years. Previously, asylum seekers whose files were pending were allowed to wait for them in the United States.
The administration defended the new policy as necessary to protect migrants from danger and put an end to the exploitation of immigration laws. It is also designed to reduce the number of immigrants that the government must follow while awaiting the outcome of their case.
But this has created dangerous conditions for migrants waiting in Tijuana, Mexico, for the opportunity to formally seek asylum because of violence, overcrowded camps and vulnerability to local gangs, NBC reported. News.
Some fear that the same situation awaits those wishing to enter El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the city located on the other side of the border.
The administrative plan provoked an angry reprimand from US representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents El Paso.
"With this shameful policy, the administration is putting lives at risk, abandoning its obligation to offer intelligent solutions to our failing immigration system and imposing on another country the task of solving our problems of life." immigration, "Escobar said in a statement.
"Enough, that's enough, I will soon introduce a bill guaranteeing that no funds are provided for this misguided policy," she said.
Children arriving alone at the border are excluded from the "Staying in Mexico" policy, but those traveling with their families are not, which means that they can also be sent back to Mexico while waiting for the date of departure. their arrival at the Immigration Court.
This expansion comes as El Paso is experiencing an increase in the number of people arrested for attempting to enter the United States without proper documentation. The apprehended migrants are being treated and finally released, which has recently flooded Annunciation House, a local non-profit organization, and its partners, who are trying to shelter them.
On Tuesday, so many people were released by government officials, the city's emergency management office in El Paso has developed a local recreation center that can accommodate about 150 people.
Finally, Annunciation House, which hosted many migrants, found them hotel rooms.
But on Wednesday, more migrants have been released. Ruben Garcia, executive director and legal director of Annunciation House, said that the immigration and customs police service had informed him that he would release 283 people in the morning and 282 others at noon.
Many of these people, if they can not get on a bus on the day of their release, will stay at Annunciation House until they can, usually no more than two or three days later.
"I'm going to divide these people into 11 home sites we have. It's like that every day, "said Garcia.
Annunciation House only works with donations and has spent about $ 1 million in hotels over time, he said.
The Border Patrol said in a statement on Tuesday that she had recorded an average of 570 apprehensions per day during the past 30 days in her El Paso area and that 90% of the apprehensions of that period had occurred in the metropolitan area of El Paso.
The El Paso area covers 125,500 square miles and includes all of New Mexico, as well as the two most westerly counties of Texas, El Paso and Hudspeth. The area comprises 268 border miles.
On Tuesday, the Customs and Border Protection Service announced that it had apprehended two groups of 446 people in El Paso in five minutes early in the morning.
Officers "met" the first group near a high steel fence along the US side of the border and just west of Bowie High School, located less than one kilometer from the Rio Grande border, said CBP. They were discovered at 14:45.
Then at 2:50, the officers "met" a second group of 252 people, who had illegally crossed the border near downtown El Paso, said CBP.
Suzanne Gamboa reported from Austin, Texas, and Julia Ainsley from Washington, D.C.
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