President Biden is set to reinstate the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” immigration program as soon as next week after multiple attempts to end the policy, according to reports.
Migrant adults enrolled in the program will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine — a change in how the policy looked under former President Trump, according to Axios, which cited two government immigration officials.
The vaccines cannot be required, and it is unclear where in the asylum process the migrants would receive the jabs.
El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, as well as San Diego, Calif., will be the first cities to see the policy reinstated, the outlet reported.
“As we have previously stated, we are required by court order to reimplement MPP,” a DHS spokesperson told Fox News, referring to the policy’s official name of “Migrant Protection Protocols.”
“In compliance with the court order, we are working to reimplement MPP as promptly as possible. We cannot do so until we have the independent agreement from the government of Mexico to accept those we seek to enroll in MPP. We will communicate to the court and to the public the timing of reimplementation when we are prepared to do so.”
The so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy was initially suspended under Biden just hours after he took office in January. It was formally ended at the beginning of June by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
However, in August, Texas District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled the administration must reinstate the policy, which requires asylum seekers along the southern US border to remain in Mexico until they can have their case be heard.
The Biden administration attempted to end the program again last month, while acknowledging the policy “likely contributed to reduced migratory flows.”
In a memo, Mayorkas noted that his Department sees “inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix” but said the administration will comply with Kacsmaryk’s ruling.
Restarting the program also relies on cooperation from Mexico.
In October, the White House noted it was pending agreement from the Mexican government before restarting the policy. The neighboring nation wants immigration cases to wrap up within six months, to ensure timely and accurate access to case information and allow for easier access to legal counsel for migrants seeking asylum.
At the time, reports emerged that Mexican officials said there was “no decision” made, with the country’s foreign ministry saying it had a “number of concerns.”
Earlier this month, the White House held the North American Leaders Summit where Biden met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Despite the US-Mexico border seeing historic numbers of crossings and apprehensions along the border this year, the growing migrant crisis was not a key focus of the summit.
Instead, López Obrador urged new US migration rules to facilitate legal labor exchanges, calling on Congress to approve Biden’s plan to grant conditional amnesty to most of the estimated 11 million people living in the US illegally.
Prior to a private meeting between Biden and the Mexican president, administration officials specifically noted that the two leaders would not discuss — even in private — the restarting of the “Remain in Mexico” policy.