BY NUBIA REYNA | STAFF WRITER
BROWNSVILLE — Within days of the “Remain in Mexico” policy being implemented by the Trump administration, the tent facility that will be used as virtual courtrooms to house immigration proceedings for asylum seekers is being built in Brownsville at the Gateway International Bridge.
The tent will house immigration proceedings with judges video conferencing in from courtrooms located throughout the United States.
“The federal government has begun the process of developing temporary, softsided structures to serve as MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols) hearing only sites, in order to address the limitations of the current immigration court locations,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
The plans are to take asylum seekers to their court hearings and take them back to Mexico while they wait for a final decision to be reached on their case. The Associated Press reported that more than 20,000 asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico, and thousands more are on wait lists just to get to the front of the line to get an asylum interview.
“The expansion of MPP will exceed the capacity at existing immigration courts, requiring DHS and DOJ (Department of Justice) to establish additional court space in and around the Ports of Entry. Building new soft-sided hearing locations will allow the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to address MPP dockets in a more targeted manner, resulting in cases being completed more efficiently,” the statement reads.
DHS said building permanent immigration courts would take more time and limit flexibility in responding to changing migratory patterns. DHS is evaluating options for additional locations along the Southwest Border where these temporary structures would provide immediate relief.
The new policy went into effect on July 16 as an attempt by President Donald Trump to decrease the number of asylum seekers. Under the rules, migrants who pass through another country on their way to the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum. Most of the immigrants arriving at the border this year pass through Mexico, including Central Americans, Africans, Cubans and Haitians. The new policy makes it impossible for them to get asylum. The rule also applies to children who cross the border alone, the Associated Press reported.
On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop denying asylum to anyone who transits through another country to reach the U.S. border. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco came hours after another federal judge in Washington, D.C., let the policy stand. The California judge’s preliminary injunction draws to a stand the policy while the injunction plays in court.
In Matamoros, the National Institute of Migration (Instituto Nacional de Migración), a unit of the government of Mexico that controls and supervises migration in the country, removed several asylum seekers who waited on the Mexican side of the Gateway International Bridge, according to a MexNoticias, a news outlet from Matamoros.
Team Brownsville, a nonprofit group made up of volunteers, crosses the international bridge on a daily basis to provide meals to the asylum seekers.