The President Joe Biden administration will reportedly be offering COVID-19 vaccines to illegal immigrants who remain in Mexico under a restarted Trump policy it is being forced to adopt by courts.
Two Biden officials told Axios that migrants who enroll in the program would be offered the vaccines, though legally they cannot be required to take them.
Biden rescinded Remain in Mexico along with other Trump-era immigration policies when he took office in January, but was ordered by a federal district court to reinstate the policy in October.
The administration had signaled it would be ready to reimplement the program in mid-November, but now says it is awaiting permissions from Mexico to send migrants there to wait for their asylum hearings.
“In compliance with the court order, we are working to reimplement MPP as promptly as possible,“ DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa said.
”We cannot do so until we have the independent agreement from the Government of Mexico to accept those we seek to enroll in MPP,” Espinosa added. “We will communicate to the court, and to the public, the timing of reimplementation when we are prepared to do so.”
A DHS official indicated that the policy, known as migrant protection protocols (MPP) would first be reinstated in El Paso and Brownsville, Texas as well as San Diego, California.
Biden may be dragging his feet while trying to fight the restart order in court: DHS filed again at the beginning of the month to block the order to reimplement the program, which seemed to be effective under former President Donald Trump.
Opponents of MPP have argued that it is dangerous for migrants to live in Mexico while awaiting a hearing that could take months or years to happen, because of violence near the border there.
In addition, living conditions have reportedly been squalid for some of the migrants who participated in the program previously.
Still, having the policy in place serves as a deterrent because fewer people will try to cross the border if they know they will need to remain in Mexico rather than be released into the U.S. where they can, if they want to, disappear and build a new life.
Biden’s immigration policies since taking office have contributed to record number of attempted border crossings as migrants have perceived that the border is now “open.”