DHS says over 1,600 migrants sent to Mexico to await asylum processing

DHS says over 1,600 migrants sent to Mexico to await asylum processing
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The Trump administration sent more than 1,600 migrants to Mexico to await the processing of their asylum claims, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official confirmed to The Hill on Friday.

The migrants were sent under the administration's so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, which requires some asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico as their claims are processed.

The policy aims to reduce the number of people entering the U.S. through the border with Mexico.

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CNN first reported the new figures on Friday.

Judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Wednesday on whether to uphold or throw out a preliminary injunction halting the policy's implementation.

DHS began sending asylum-seekers to Mexico under the policy earlier this year, arguing that it "will help restore a safe and orderly immigration process, decrease the number of those taking advantage of the immigration system, and the ability of smugglers and traffickers to prey on vulnerable populations, and reduce threats to life, national security, and public safety, while ensuring that vulnerable populations receive the protections they need."

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who was then serving as the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said last month that the immigration system had reached a "breaking point" due to the large number of people entering the country. 

Immigrant rights advocates, however, have said that the policy puts vulnerable people in danger.

"This is no longer just a war on asylum seekers, it’s a war on our system of laws,” Melissa Crow, a Southern Poverty Law Center attorney who is challenging the policy in court, said in a statement earlier this year. “This misguided policy deprives vulnerable individuals of humanitarian protections that have been on the books for decades and puts their lives in jeopardy.”

Updated: 3:38 p.m.