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Border coalition condemns 'Remain in Texas' policy considered by Biden administration

Migrants line before authorities in Eagle Pass after presenting themselves for asylum.
Gaige Davila
Migrants line up before authorities in Eagle Pass after presenting themselves for asylum.

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The Texas Border Coalition (TBC)has condemned a proposal that would require migrants to stay in Texas while they await asylum hearings.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on the so-called "Remain in Texas" policy last month under consideration by the Biden administration.

Under the proposal, some migrant families would be required to stay in communities along the Texas-Mexico border throughout the asylum process. Their movement would be tracked with GPS monitoring devices, like ankle bracelets.

David Stout, an El Paso County commissioner and chairman of the TBC, said the "Remain in Texas" policy would put undue pressure on border communities and would violate the rights of asylum seekers to freedom of movement and due process.

“This proposed policy would strain communities along the border whose resources are already stretched thin," Stout said in a statement. "Our border communities should not be treated as political pawns by Republicans nor Democrats. Neither should refugees suffering from unstable and, many times, life-threatening situations who have endured an equally dangerous trek to get to the U.S."

Stout said the Biden administration has been in contact with members of the Texas Border Coalition — which is made up of mayors, county judges, and economic development commissions from El Paso to Brownsville —
and a decision on "Remain in Texas" may be announced in the coming days.

Under pressure to address the challenge of record migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden administration has been considering a mix of policy changes — including a stunning reversal that it wouldrestart border wall construction.

The border wall construction will take place across Starr County, including in a Lower Rio Grande Valley wildlife refuge.

In December, a federal Judge in Texas placed a pause on the Biden Administration's plan to end the Migrant Protection Protocols— also known as "Remain in Mexico."

The hardline Trump-era policy required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their court cases were processed. The policy was criticized by human rights activists for forcing asylum seekers to wait for their day in immigration court in dangerous conditions in Northern Mexico.

"Instead of enforcing the laws already on the books, President Biden is floating an absurd policy to force migrants to remain in Texas," Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesperson for Gov. Greg Abbott's office, said in a statement to TPR. "It should be 'Remain in Mexico,' not 'Remain in Texas'. This scam was tried and shut down years ago by the judicial system, and if President Biden tries it again, Texas will send the same swift justice with a lawsuit to eliminate this threat."

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Gaige Davila is the Border and Immigration Reporter for Texas Public Radio.