WASHINGTON — Mexico has agreed to allow the United States to restart a contentious Trump-era asylum program that requires certain migrants to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending, complicating the Biden administration’s efforts to roll back the former president’s restrictive immigration policies.
The Biden administration, which announced the agreement on Thursday, has tried to end the program, which American officials and advocacy groups have assailed as dangerous and inhumane. But it has been forced to restart it under a court order, and doing so requires the cooperation of the Mexican government, which had been reluctant to do so without commitments to address humanitarian concerns.
Roberto Velasco Álvarez, head of the North America unit at the Mexican Foreign Ministry, said that Mexico had agreed to the restart of the program, known commonly as Remain in Mexico and formally as Migrant Protection Protocols, after the Biden administration agreed to a number of steps to improve humanitarian conditions at the border, such as providing vaccines for migrants. Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable asylum seekers will not be included in the program.
“The United States accepted all those concerns and made the modifications to the program accordingly,” Mr. Velasco said.
The Remain in Mexico program will apply to migrants whom the United States is unable to expel under a public health rule it put in place at the beginning of the pandemic.
Ending the program was an early goal for President Biden as he sought to rebuild an asylum system that had largely been dismantled under Mr. Trump. Its resumption creates the challenge of securing cooperation from legal advocates and humanitarian groups, many of whom have already said they would not participate because of ongoing opposition to Mr. Biden’s immigration policies.
By Eileen Sullivan and Oscar Lopez for THE NEW YORK TIMES
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