Inside Trump’s Immigration Tent Courts: Controversial System Meant to Fast-track Asylum Backlog

LAREDO, Texas — The white tents that sit here on the very edge of the U.S border, with Mexico a literal stone’s throw away, represent one of the jewels in the crown of the Trump administration’s recent efforts to get a grip on the immigration crisis.

They are the temporary courtrooms set up as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known colloquially as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. That policy, established earlier this year, involves sending migrants who are trying to claim asylum back to Mexico during their proceedings — instead of releasing them into the U.S. while their cases are heard.

This means, officials say, that cases can be heard more quickly — within as little as 40-60 days, as opposed to the years it sometimes takes after family units are released into the U.S. They say that’s better for the migrants, as it leaves them in limbo for less time. But they argue it also serves as a disincentive for Central American migrants who do not have legitimate asylum claims but might otherwise get into the U.S. by claiming “credible fear” of returning home.

The white tents along the border right now are meant to handle the growing asylum claims, with the backlog now at more than 800,000 cases. The courtrooms recently were set up in Laredo and Brownsville, Texas, but the administration is hoping to set up more such tents across the border soon, expanding amid greater cooperation with Mexico.

Yet the proceedings have come under fire from immigration advocates. The group Human Rights First has called them “secretive” and described them as part of an “attack” on due process within a “sham” asylum system. The same group recently charged that they’ve been closed to the media and public observers. Advocates see the courts as simply another hurdle for asylum seekers.

By Adam Shaw for FOX NEWS
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