A spokesperson for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Justice Department branch that oversees the nation's immigration courts, said the decision will ensure asylum-seekers in the program can have their "day in court", while safeguarding the health of migrants, officials and US citizens.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said that the policy can stay in effect while legal challenges play out, marking a victory for the administration, which has increasingly relied on the program since its implementation.
The United States already sends non-Mexican asylum seekers to Mexico under a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).More news: One UI 2.1 brings new camera features to Galaxy S10+
The delays come after the administration announced Friday that it would deny entry to migrants, including those seeking asylum, who attempt to cross borders without authorization. The restrictions, which the administration says were necessary due to the pandemic, prohibit the entry of undocumented migrants, even at points of entry.
"Neither the MPP program nor any hearings will be cancelled".
The Justice Department canceled all hearings for immigrants not detained as the outbreak sweeps the country, but it has received criticism for not closing most courts or postponing hearings for those who are detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.More news: Britain's Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus
Richard Newman, an immigration attorney with the non-profit San Antonio Region Justice For Our Neighbors, said Monday's announcement was a good move from a public health perspective.
Canada said it would turn back asylum seekers who walk over the U.S.
"I'm thankful that EOIR made that decision so it doesn't make the immigration lawyers look like bad guys", he added.More news: Australia bans outgoing travel as some ignore warning
Mexico temporarily halted the processing of asylum requests from Tuesday, its refugee agency said, the latest measure in North America aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus that have also limited access to asylum. In the United States, the decision applies to all migrants. It has resulted in the creation of makeshift camps where hundreds of migrants have waited for weeks, if not months, in squalid and unsafe conditions. "They are stuck in a disgusting situation in Mexico".