White House Urges Asylum-Seekers to Be Patient As Start of Processing Begins

February 16, 2021 by TWN Staff
A mother comforts her crying child while joining more than 200 asylum seekers in the parking lot of an immigration check-point in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on August 1, 2019. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The White House urged asylum-seekers to be patient and to abide by proper procedures as the United States readies itself to begin processing their claims on Friday.

In a joint statement released Tuesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, both of whom also hold the title of assistant to the president, said the U.S. will begin processing individuals eligible for asylum by the end of the week, working closely with the government of Mexico, as well as international and non-governmental organizations.

However, they caution that individuals who have been waiting to come to the U.S. should not take any action at this time and should remain where they are to await further instructions.

“We will soon announce a virtual registration process that will be accessible from any location,” they said.

Once registered, eligible individuals will be provided additional information about where and when to present themselves. Individuals should not approach the border until instructed to do so, they stressed.

“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,” Sullivan and Sherwood-Randall said.

The new process applies to individuals who were returned to Mexico by the Trump administration and have cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Individuals outside of the United States who were not returned to Mexico under the Migration Protection Protocols program, or who do not have active immigration court cases, will not be considered for participation in this first phase of this program and should await further instructions, the administration said.

“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,” Sullivan and Sherwood-Randall said.

“People who attempt to cross the border without going through ports of entry should understand that you are putting yourselves and your families in danger, especially during a global pandemic,” they added.

The White House also reminded asylum seekers that the immigration reform legislation that President Biden sent to the Congress only applies to individuals who were in the United States before January 1, 2021.

“This is a crucial first step to communicate our respect for human rights and human dignity, which includes abiding by legal processes and health and safety protocols,” Sullivan and Sherwood-Randall said.

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