The U.S. has long been a beacon of hope for persecuted individuals around the world. To escape persecution and dangerous conditions, some citizens of Latin American countries have had little choice but to make the more than 3,500-mile trek to the southern border of the U.S.
While U.S. law allows persecuted individuals and families to seek asylum in the U.S., a controversial policy required many of them to remain in Mexico until immigration officials could review their asylum requests. Thankfully, that policy, officially called Migrant Protection Protocols, is now a relic of the past.
Dangerous and unsanitary conditions
The remain-in-Mexico policy, which immigration officials began in January 2019, required some asylum applicants to return to Mexico and live in potentially dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Immigration advocates forcefully objected to the policy, which immigration officials had never implemented before.
A return to normalcy
While the way immigration authorities process asylum applications has never been perfect, Migrant Protection Protocols did virtually nothing to improve processing.
Even though it is not yet clear how immigration officials intend to adjudicate asylum applications, the end of the remain-in-Mexico policy signals a return to normalcy. That is, asylum applicants are likely eligible to stay in the U.S. until immigration officials act on their applications.
An approvable asylum application
Individuals who successfully pursue asylum are typically eligible to live and even work in the U.S. without fearing removal from the country. To qualify for asylum, applicants must prove they fear persecution in their home country because of at least one of the following:
- Political opinion
- Membership in a particular social group
Ultimately, the end of Migrant Protection Protocols is a good thing for Latin American asylum applicants. After all, individuals can now prepare their asylum applications without worrying about their physical safety.