FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2021
Barragán was at the San Ysidro Port of Entry today to observe processing of migrants, tour the intake area, meet asylum seekers and speak with legal advocates on both sides of the border
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Border Security Chairwoman Nanette Diaz Barragán traveled to the San Diego-Tijuana border to witness asylum seekers finally gain entry into the U.S. after they were forced to wait in Mexico for years under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as “Remain in Mexico.” New Biden Administration directives now allow migrants in the MPP program to enter and stay in the U.S. as their asylum cases are decided.
Chairwoman Barragán met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, toured the West Migrant Protection Protocols Intake Area, observed the processing of asylum seekers and spoke with them, and met with the workers of non-profit organizations aiding migrants on both sides of the border.
“This was a very happy day. I got emotional watching these migrants, who, after more than a year suffering inhumane and deplorable conditions, finally got to enter the United States,” Chairwoman Barragán said.
“I spoke to two amazing young girls, one was three and one was six, who are just looking forward to being here in America. Their parents were filled with so much relief, joy and optimism now that that they are finally setting foot on American soil. They look forward to making their cases and being with their families in America while they wait.
“About a year ago, I saw firsthand the horrific living conditions for people returned to Mexico in Matamoros. I cannot forget the fear, suffering, and danger I witnessed as a result of this un-American and immoral policy intended to shut down our legal process of asylum. Today, I am grateful to witness the beginning of the end of this inhumane policy.
“It is a new day. Instead of sending asylum seekers to dangerous and unsanitary conditions in Mexico, today, buses were decorated in celebration to welcome migrants to America.
“Unfortunately, only 25 asylum seekers were processed today. We have to find a way to get more people through the process each day. Too many people are still waiting in dangerous conditions.
“We still have much more work to do, but this is a key step towards rehabilitating our asylum system after the last four years and treating migrants with the dignity they deserve. It was really moving to witness it today. I will never forget the smiles on those little girls’ faces.”
The first 25 people in the MPP program were processed and allowed entry through the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego on Friday (2/19). Ports of Entry in El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, are scheduled to begin allowing entry to asylum seekers this coming week. All three ports will begin by allowing entry to 25 migrants in the MPP program per day per port of entry and ramp up to 300 migrants per day per port of entry at an unspecified point in the future.
Approximately 68,000 asylum seekers are currently stranded in Mexico. Of those, about 25,000 have open immigration cases and are now eligible to be processed to enter the United States while awaiting adjudication. Migrants are being cautioned not to come to the border until advised.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She is chairwoman of the Border Security, Facility and Operations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security.