‘Remain In Mexico’ Hearings, Visa Interviews Further Delayed Due To Coronavirus

By Kendal Blust
Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 2:12pm
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After President Trump acknowledged that the country won’t return to normal by Easter, Homeland Security announced it would further delay hearings for asylum seekers waiting in Mexico under the “Remain In Mexico” program, and extend closures of visa offices across the country.

On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that due to the coronavirus it would extend the suspension of asylum hearings for migrants sent back to Mexico.

Previously, hearings had been postponed until April 22, causing concern among migrant advocates for the health and safety of asylum seekers waiting south of the border. Now, hearings are suspended until May 1.

"Possibly in May, but that's not certain. It could be extended more, no one knows," said Hilda Loureiro, who runs a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora.

In the meantime, she said, many migrants and asylum seekers are essentially stranded, with nowhere to go and no guarantee of when hearings will start up again.

Asylum seekers are still required to show up at ports of entry on the day of their scheduled hearings to receive a new hearing notice, DHS said in a new release.

"Any individual with an (Migrant Protection Protocols) hearing date through Friday, May 1, 2020 should present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates," DHS said in a new release.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also extended closures of field offices across the U.S. until May 4, putting visa and asylum interviews, naturalization ceremonies and all other in-person services on hold.

"USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further," the DHS said in a new release Wednesday.

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