The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the reinstatement of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which asylum seekers coming through the Southern U.S. border have to wait in Mexico – often in squalid conditions – for a decision on their asylum cases.
The policy affects mainly Central American arrivals, who are fleeing persecution and gang violence at home and apply for asylum at the border, either proactively or when apprehended. In the fiscal year of 2019, the latest available, this group made up more than 18 percent of all asylum grants and at least 22 percent of all applications.
The last couple of years have seen a major shift in arrivals at the Southern U.S. border, with Central Americans outnumbering Mexicans – traditionally the largest group to cross the border – by a large margin in fiscal years 2019 and 2021. Both years also saw the total number of border arrivals skyrocket, with 2021 already at levels last seen in 2001 despite two more months to go in the fiscal year. As seen in the data by the Department of Homeland Security, Central Americans from the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras were more likely to apply for and even more likely to be granted asylum in the U.S. than Mexicans in FY2019.
Between FY2010 and FY2019, the number of asylum grants to El Salvadorans rose significantly from just 283 to more than 3,000. The number of Honduran asylees grew equally steeply from 106 to around 1,800. The number of new asylum grantees out of Guatemala also rose by more than 500 percent to around 2,600. A smaller number of asylum grants - 673 - were given out to Nicaraguans in FY2019. Overall, the number of asylum grants in the U.S. rose by 135 percent over the time period.