The Biden administration announced late Wednesday that it will halt the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, axing a key tool that security experts said helped solve the 2019 migrant surge.
Homeland Security said it will cease putting new illegal immigrants into the program on Thursday.
But the department said it is leaving in place pandemic travel restrictions, which it hopes will stem a new rush to the border.
Remain-in-Mexico, which is officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols, gave border authorities the power to push back any new unauthorized migrants across the boundary to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases proceeded.
It helped cut down on the rash of bogus asylum claims that fueled the 2019 surge — though immigration activists say it also snared valid asylum-seekers, leaving them vulnerable while they waited in Mexico.
Tens of thousands of migrants were put into the MPP during the Trump years. Many of them gave up their cases rather than wait it out in Mexico, which security experts said was proof that they didn’t have valid claims to begin with.
Those who were already put into MPP and are still waiting in Mexico will not immediately be allowed in, Homeland Security said.
The move came just hours after President Biden announced plans for the largest legalization of illegal immigrants in history.
Homeland Security said those not already in the U.S. right now wouldn’t qualify for that legalization.