According to reports, the Biden administration’s new asylum process at the southern border will begin phasing in on February 19, 2021. The Department of Homeland Security will start with a very small number of asylum-seekers from the estimated 25,000 who have “active cases” in the former Migrant Protection Protocols program. Few details have been shared in an effort to avoid overwhelming ports of entry.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas warned migrants not to begin traveling to the U.S. border immediately. “It’s a very, very important cautionary note that they should not travel to the border. That will only increase the pressure on the humanitarian effort to provide for them carefully and safely,” he said.

The new system, to be publicized via social media networks, will include registration with certain as-yet unidentified nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), according to National Public Radio. After initial screening, there will be additional steps, including an appointment to enter the United States and be tested for the coronavirus. They will then be enrolled in “alternative detention programs” while awaiting their asylum proceedings.

The effort also includes rescinding Trump-era agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras “as efforts to establish a cooperative, mutually respectful approach to managing migration across the region begin,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

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