Biden administration provides $20 million to assist 700,000 migrants seeking asylum in US

The U.S. government announced Friday it will provide more than $20 million to nearly 700,000 asylum seeks, refugees and vulnerable migrants in Central America and Mexico. 

The additional funding, provided through the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), will "help meet urgent humanitarian needs," and brings the total humanitarian assistance for Central America and Mexico to more than $331 million for Fiscal Year 2021, according to the state department’s spokesperson Ned Price. 

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According to Price, the additional money will support increased access to international protection, access to mental health support, legal assistance, shelter and healthcare, including prevention and treatment of COVID-19. 

"Through this new humanitarian assistance, the United States is advancing our mission to collaboratively manage migration in the region, including by promoting access to protection and increasing the U.S. response to urgent humanitarian needs in Central America and Mexico," Price wrote. "This is part of the Administration’s comprehensive approach to supporting safe, orderly, and humane migration while also addressing the root causes of irregular migration in the region." 

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The move comes as the Biden administration said it plans to re-instate the Trump-era immigration policy referred to as "Remain in Mexico" next month. The program requires asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico until they have a U.S. court hearing, complying with a judge’s order. 

About 70,000 asylum-seekers have been subject to the "Remain in Mexico" policy, known officially as "Migrant Protection Protocols," which President Donald Trump introduced in January 2019 and Biden suspended on his first day in office. A federal judge sided with the states of Texas and Missouri by ordering the Biden administration in August to reinstate the policy "in good faith." 

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The court filing says it should be in effect around mid-November.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.