TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The US administration moved Monday to delay the court hearings for asylum-seekers sent to Mexico, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
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The US Justice Department said hearings for those affected by the "Remain in Mexico" program that were scheduled for before April 22 will be postponed, CBS News reported. Those who have scheduled court dates before April 22 will need to obtain new government documents and a new hearing date from border officials, on the day of their scheduled hearing.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office for Immigration Review within the department told CBS News the decision would allow the department to protect migrants, officials and US citizens from the coronavirus and allow the migrants to have their "day in court."
The spokesperson maintained that the "Remain in Mexico" program, officially called the Migrant Protections Protocols, was not being canceled. The program has already sent more than 6,000 Latin American asylum-seekers to northern Mexico as they wait for their cases to process.
The delays come after the administration announced Friday that it would deny entry to migrants, including those seeking asylum, who attempt to cross borders without authorization. Officials said the decision was made in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, The Hill reported.
The Justice Department canceled all hearings for immigrants not detained as the outbreak sweeps the country, but it has received criticism for not closing most courts or postponing hearings for those who are detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The novel coronavirus, which has disrupted American society, has infected more than 46,000 people in the US, killing at least 610, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.