A tent camp in Matamoros, Mexico, where hundreds of migrants stayed in deplorable conditions after being subject to a Trump-era policy requiring they stay in Mexico until their immigration court date in the US, has been drawn down, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told CNN.
Over recent years, migrants have set up camp in Matamoros awaiting entry to the US. Immigrant advocates called the situation a humanitarian crisis just feet from the US southern border that formed as a result of harsh Trump administration policies.
President Joe Biden ended the Trump-era policy, informally known as “remain in Mexico,” and kicked off the process of allowing entry to migrants who had been subject to it. The camp in Matamoros is one of many locations where migrants had been forced to stay and had become emblematic of the “remain in Mexico” policy.
DHS said Saturday the Biden administration, in partnership with international organizations, have completed registration of individuals staying at the camp.
“We are no longer registering people in the Matamoros camp and no one arriving in the camp will gain access to this phased program through their physical presence there,” a DHS spokesperson said. “A small number of individuals remaining in the camp have been relocated to other locations identified by our international organization partners that afford greater protection than the informal camp.”
Efforts to admit migrants subject to the “remain in Mexico” policy are ongoing, but so far, the US had processed more than 700 people at the Brownsville port of entry, according to the spokesperson. The Biden administration estimates some 25,000 migrants still have active cases under the program. Migrants are required to test for Covid-19 before entering the US.
The “remain in Mexico” policy, which went into effect January 2019, was an unprecedented departure from previous protocols, which allowed for the entry of migrants as they went through their immigration hearings in the United States.
The Trump administration set up makeshift courtrooms in Brownsville, just across from Matamoros for migrants to attend their court hearings, resulting in many staying in the camp as they awaited their court date.
Democratic lawmakers launched investigations into the policy and visited the camp, condemning the Trump administration for kicking migrants, including families and children, back to the deteriorating conditions there. In some cases, the situation on the ground resulted in children separating from their families to try to gain entry into the US.