Citing the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration decided Monday to postpone all hearings for the thousands of asylum seekers it has returned to Mexico.
The Supreme Court earlier this month allowed the policy to remain in place pending a legal challenge.
EOIR said Monday that any individual with a hearing date through April 22 should still present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date "to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates".
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration instituted a policy past year that has sent back some 60,000 migrants requesting asylum to wait on the Mexican side of the border for U.S. immigration court hearings. The program has already sent more than 6,000 Latin American asylum-seekers to northern Mexico as they wait for their cases to process.
The Justice Department canceled all hearings for immigrants not detained as the outbreak sweeps the country, but it has received criticism for not closing most courts or postponing hearings for those who are detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said he and other lawyers who are representing asylum-seekers in the MPP program had been dreading telling their clients they would not go to court with them or visit them in Mexico, fearing community transmission of the coronavirus.
Mexico temporarily halted the processing of asylum requests from Tuesday, its refugee agency said, the latest measure in North America aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus that have also limited access to asylum. It has resulted in the creation of makeshift camps where hundreds of migrants have waited for weeks, if not months, in squalid and unsafe conditions.
Though well-aware of the public health considerations, Newman noted that migrants he represents are disheartened that they won't be able to make their case to win US asylum in front of a judge anytime soon.
"These people are broken-hearted", Newman told CBS News.
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