US immigration authorities detail so-called return-to-Mexico guidance for migrants

Washington (CNN) – The Trump administration officially laid out its new policy to force migrants seeking asylum in the United States to remain Mexico to await their immigration court proceedings — a significant change in US asylum policy.The memorandum, which was issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, would require some asylum seekers, many of whom are from Central America, to stay in Mexico, instead of the US, until their immigration court hearings. A massive immigration court backlog has resulted in cases being scheduled years out; it’s not clear whether these cases will be on a similar timeline or expedited.The policy is expected to be challenged in court by immigration-rights advocates.President Donald

Trump has repeatedly criticized the nation’s immigration system, particularly the practice of releasing immigrants into the US until their immigration court hearings. According to Justice Department data, the majority of immigrants do attend their immigration court proceedings. Still, an influx of immigrants at the US-Mexico border with the arrival of caravans appears to have flamed the President’s concerns.

Customs and Border Protection is instructed to refer migrants who claim they’ll be persecuted or tortured in Mexico to US Citizenship and Immigration Services for further interviews; asylum officers are then expected to conduct follow-up interviews in person, via video teleconference or by telephone. If migrants don’t meet the threshold, they’ll be expected to stay in Mexico until their immigration court proceedings.The memo indicates that the policy will be implemented soon. A Department of Homeland Security official told CNN that returns of asylum seekers were expected to begin taking place on Friday, but they never materialized.Sources told CNN last week that the policy would begin to be implemented at the legal border crossing with Tijuana.It’s still unclear when or if the policy will be rolled out across the southern border or only at certain points of entry. As a result, the number of people who would be affected by its implementation remains unknown.Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued policy guidance on implementation of the program on Friday, which prompted the US Citizenship and Immigration Services field guidance issued Monday.

By Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez for CNN POLITICS

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