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30 July 2019

Director of the Strauss Center’s Central America / Mexico Policy Initiative, Stephanie Leutert, wrote about her experiences seeing the “metering” program along the Mexican border in her article “What ‘Metering’ Really Looks Like in South Texas.” Leutert highlights that 18,000-people are waiting along the border due the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) metering policy.

Next, Leutert explores the implications of the policy. She argues that the process is varied and non-consistent. Since the CBP officers set limits on how many asylum seekers can enter in a single day there is a huge backup. In response, the asylum seekers have to wait in crowded and unsanitary conditions on the Mexican side of the border. Additionally, the asylum waitlist process varies dramatically among each city. In some cases, there are even multiple lists. The wait-times also differ significantly, ranging from 2 weeks to several months. While they wait, security is a huge concern for asylum seekers. The shelters are full and so people are forced to find places to stay. However, criminal groups control many of the cities where people are waiting.

With the Department of Homeland Security expanding its Migrant Protection Protocols, even more people will be sent back to Mexico during the processing of their asylum cases. This will worsen the situation. Despite the uncertainty facing asylum seekers, thousands of people continue to wait for a chance to enter the United States.

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