- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan insisted Tuesday that America’s borders “are not open” as the White House moved to try to head off a growing migrant surge that threatens to undermine President Biden’s immigration plans.

In a statement issued in English and Spanish, Mr. Sullivan and Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall tried to tamp down on expectations of a more lenient posture for both illegal immigrants and future legal migrants eager to come.

Their warning came even as they announced they would allow entry of tens of thousands of migrants who have been mired in Mexico, blocked from entering by the Trump team.

“We caution people seeking to immigrate to the United States that our borders are not open, and that this is just the first phase in the administration’s work to reopen access to an orderly asylum process,” the advisers said.

Homeland Security is preparing to admit some 25,000 migrants who were blocked from entry under the Migrant Protection Protocols, better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. MPP helped solve the last border surge in 2019, sapping the incentive for illegal immigrants to come by making them wait in Mexico while their cases proceeded in U.S. immigration courts, denying them a foothold here.

But the program was criticized by immigrant-rights advocates who said it left some legitimate asylum-seekers vulnerable in Mexico. Bowing to those concerns, the Biden team has said it is scrapping the MPP and will process those people still stuck in the program for entry over the ensuing weeks.

Mr. Sullivan said the new administration’s leniency only applies to people with active MPP cases.

“If you seek entry into the U.S. and do not have an active MPP case, you will be immediately expelled and will not be permitted to remain in the United States,” he said.

In fact, that is not always true.

Border Patrol officials say they’re already seeing a new surge that has overwhelmed some areas of the border, and Mexico is showing less cooperation in taking people back.

That’s forced a return to catch-and-release in some parts of Texas, and Border Patrol agents say they expect it to spread to Arizona, New Mexico and California soon.

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