Alejandro Mayorkas, the new secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, gave a preview to MSNBC on Friday what the new asylum process will be for migrants on the southwest border.
In short, DHS is working "from square one" to build the infrastructure necessary to handle the expected large number of asylum seekers "safely, efficiently, and humanely."
"It’s not turning on a light switch. We are talking about rebuilding infrastructure, rebuilding facilities, rebuilding operations, bringing to bear the personnel and talent, implementing the policies and procedures to allow that. This program that we are launching on February 19 is just the beginning, and it’s a remarkable program that we have built in the partnerships I have described, where people can register for access to the United States asylum program remotely," Mayorkas explained.
"They don’t have to take the perilous journey to the southern border, but they can register in this program remotely through a virtual platform. We will triage their needs, we will address the needs of individuals according to the time in which they entered the Remain in Mexico program," he continued.
Mayorkas said international organizations will step in to help provide COVID-19 testing capabilities to screen for the virus from those wanting to enter the United States.
"We will do this in a way that protects them and protects the American public," Mayorkas added.
According to DHS, the program that is launching on February 19 "will begin phase one of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border. DHS will begin processing people who had been forced to 'remain in Mexico' under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)."
DHS reiterated the program "should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States."