TIJUANA/SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Asylum seekers sent to wait in to Mexico beneath a controversial new Trump administration policy crossed into the United States on Tuesday for their initial hearings in U.S. immigration court, harboring hopes a judge would permit them to keep.

Honduran migrant Ariel, 19, who is waiting for his court hearing for asylum seekers, that have been returned to Mexico to await their legal proceedings beneath a new policy established by the U.S. government, have a coffee in Tijuana, Mexico, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

The U.S. plan, recognized as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), turns folks looking for protection in the United States about to await pending U.S. court dates in Mexican border towns. Some 240 folks – such as households – have been returned to Mexico considering that late January, according to U.S. officials.

Court officials referred inquiries about the quantity of hearings becoming held on Tuesday to the U.S. Division of Homeland Safety, which did not respond to a request for comment. But a group of about a half-dozen Central Americans crossed via the San Ysidro port of entry early Tuesday morning. Only a couple have been represented by attorneys.

Ariel, 19, who stated he left Honduras for the reason that of gang threats and asked to use only his middle name for the reason that of fears of reprisals, was amongst the initial group of asylum seekers sent back to Mexico on Jan. 30 and provided a notice to seem in U.S. court in San Diego.

He took an Uber from the migrant shelter exactly where he has been living to the port of entry with yet another returnee, just after speaking by telephone with his family members back in Honduras.

“God prepared all the things will move ahead and I will be in a position to prove that if I am sent back to Honduras, I’ll be killed,” he stated.

Ariel’s lawyer, Robyn Barnard from the nonprofit group Human Rights Very first, stated she would argue against him becoming sent back to Mexico.

“We have proof about the dangers that asylum seekers and refugees face in Mexico,” Barnard stated. “So we strategy to present that to the judge and to the government currently.”

Just before crossing the border, Barnard’s customers bowed their heads for a prayer.

U.S. officials have stated they are operating with the Mexican government to make certain migrants are secure waiting Mexico. But some Mexican officials have warned the country’s border cities would struggle to appear just after asylum seekers for extended periods.

Some returnees, like Ariel, say they have not been provided legal operate permits in Mexico.

“No 1 is telling them how to do that,” stated Mariel Villarreal, an immigration lawyer with the San Francisco-primarily based Pangea Legal Solutions, who has a Guatemalan client with a hearing set for Tuesday in San Diego. “They are just becoming sent back to homelessness in Tijuana generally.”

“GENEROUS” LAWS

The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups are suing in federal court to halt the MPP plan, which is element of a series of measures the administration of President Donald Trump has taken to attempt to curb the flow of mainly Central American migrants attempting to enter the United States.

The Trump administration says most asylum claims, particularly for Central Americans, are in the end rejected but for the reason that of crushing immigration court backlogs folks are usually released pending resolution of their situations and reside in the United States for years. The government has stated the new plan is aimed at ending “the exploitation of our generous immigration laws.”

Critics of the plan say it violates U.S. law and international norms considering that migrants are sent back to usually harmful towns in Mexico in precarious living scenarios exactly where it is tricky to get notice about adjustments to their U.S. court dates and to come across legal enable.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stated there are true issues about the issues of carrying out this significant shift in U.S. immigration policy.

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“The government did not have its footwear tied when they introduced this plan,” he stated.

Immigration advocates are closely watching how the proceedings will be carried out this week, particularly just after scheduling glitches produced confusion about 3 hearings final week, according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune.

The Executive Workplace for Immigration Critique (EOIR), which runs U.S. immigration courts beneath the Division of Justice, stated only that it utilizes its standard court scheduling program for the MPP hearings and did not respond to a query about the reported scheduling challenges.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana and Jose Gallego Espina in San Diego writing and further reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York Editing by Bill Trott

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