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The Biden administration quietly began a new process for asylum-seekers

The administration partnered with six humanitarian groups. Here’s everything you need to know about the current — and temporary — process.

Migrants mainly from Honduras and Nicaragua.
Migrants mainly from Honduras and Nicaragua sit in line after turning themselves in upon crossing the U.S.-Mexico border Monday, May 17, 2021, in La Joya, Texas.
Gregory Bull, Associated Press

Tensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have continued to simmer. Migrants, including asylum-seekers, hoping to enter the U.S. have been unable to do so due to a public health order put in place by former President Donald Trump and maintained by current President Joe Biden, said The Associated Press.

  • Quietly, the Biden administration began a new, temporary process for allowing asylum-seekers to enter, per the AP.

The details of the process and the organizations involved have not been publicly released, but a few anonymous individuals spoke to the AP about the arrangements. The government’s elusiveness about the program has drawn strong criticism.

What is the new process for allowing asylum-seekers into the U.S.?

Under the new initiative, the U.S. will allow up to 250 asylum-seekers to enter every day until July 31, said the AP. Asylum-seekers must be referred for entry by a task force of six humanitarian organizations.

  • Since May 3, about 800 asylum-seekers have entered the U.S. through the program, said NBC News.
  • The organizations are tasked with identifying and recommending the most vulnerable migrants, said the AP.

The criteria for recommendation remain unclear. According to the AP, priority is given to individuals who have been in Mexico the longest, need medical attention, suffer from disabilities, belong to the LGBTQ community, or do not speak Spanish.

  • This new process runs parallel to a similar initiative that began in late March and allows up to 35 families a day to enter the U.S. at different points along the border, said the AP.

Who is involved in the temporary process?

According to the AP, the Biden administration tapped six humanitarian organizations to lead the new initiative: Asylum Access, HIAS, the International Rescue Committee, the Institute for Women in Migration, Kids in Need of Defense, and Save the Children.

  • Some of the organizations did not want added media exposure for fear of their offices being overwhelmed or threatened, said the AP.

Why has the new process been kept secret?

No clear answer has been given to explain the secretive nature of the new initiative, AP reported. Tensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have remained high in recent months, reported the Deseret News.

This news comes ahead of Harris’ anticipated visit to Mexico and Guatemala, reported CNN.