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AILA:  Trump’s Disdain for  Law and Lack of Concern for Vulnerable Asylum Seekers on Display at Border

On the evening of Sunday, May 10, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a joint DHS/EOIR statement on the rescheduling of MPP hearings. This statement changed prior DHS procedures without adequate notice to affected migrants or their attorneys, adding confusion to the already opaque and unconstitutional Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico.” The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) opposes MPP and these new procedures, which create more confusion and instability for the thousands of asylum seekers waiting for their U.S. immigration court hearings in violent and dangerous conditions in Mexico.

AILA President Marketa Lindt stated, “Asylum seekers already subjected to MPP are vulnerable and afraid; this latest announcement will only create more confusion for them and likely result in people making additional unnecessary and dangerous trips to the U.S. ports of entry. In addition, we have heard from AILA members that MPP hearings are getting rescheduled to 2021, which traps asylum seekers in untenable circumstances in Mexico waiting for even longer periods of time.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “A central flaw of MPP is the government’s inability to get in touch with individuals impacted by the program. This basically ensures that countless asylum seekers will miss important announcements to the detriment of their cases. We urge EOIR and CBP to adopt our recommendation to parole people into the US when they appear at the border for their MPP hearings, not send them back to dangerous conditions, only to be required to appear again weeks or months later. They could then be placed on the non-detained docket, live safely with family in the U.S. and check in via phone or video as necessary until their immigration hearings.

The joint DHS/EOIR press statement was released on Sunday, May 10, at 8:00pm (ET) in English and shared on social media. It indicates that MPP hearings would be postponed through June 19. (MPP hearings were previously postponed through June 1, 2020).

This statement also announced that in-person document service has been stopped. Individuals who show up on their scheduled date through June 8th will not be receiving new tear sheets, which allow people subject to MPP to live and work in Mexico while waiting for their court hearings.
DOJ/EOIR is directing individuals with a hearing prior to June 22 to present themselves at the port of entry identified on their tear sheet one month later than the date indicated on their most recently noticed date. For example, if the hearing date is May 10, individuals should present themselves on June 10th.

AILA has learned that if the rescheduled date is on a weekend, then individuals should appear the following Monday. For individuals with a hearing date of June 22 or after, there is no change in procedures and individuals should report as instructed on their tear sheets.

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