Some of the asylum seekers have been there for more than a year due to immigration rules set by former President Trump.
The first asylum seekers from a Mexican border camp that had become a symbol of Trump-era immigration restrictions entered the United States on Thursday under a New policy intended to end the hardships endured by migrants in dangerous border towns.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the original group included 27 people who lived in the makeshift Matamoros camp across from Brownsville, Texas.
Some residents have lived there for more than a year under former President Donald Trump’s controversial Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, demanding that asylum seekers in Mexico wait for U.S. court hearings.
A new process under the leadership of President Joe Biden will gradually allow thousands of MPP asylum seekers to await court rulings in the United States. Some asylum seekers were allowed to enter San Ysidro, California last week.
Francisco Gallardo, who runs a migrant shelter in Matamoros and provides humanitarian aid at the camp, welcomed the news that the process had started in Matamoros, but said it should have arrived sooner.
“It’s good that they are doing it, but unfortunately they are arriving late,” he said.
Frigid temperatures on the US-Mexico border have made Matamoros camp a priority, the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday.
Asylum seekers at the camp have struggled to maintain good hygiene and protect themselves from organized crime in what is one of the most violent states in Mexico.
“The camp was a space that presented multiple risks for migrants,” said Misael Hernandez, researcher on migration issues at Colegio de la Frontera Norte.
The Mexican Migration Institute did not immediately respond to a request for comment.