Asylum-seeking migrants fleeing to America’s southern border could be sent back to Mexico as early as Friday.
The Department of Homeland Security made the announcement late Thursday citing the new policy called the Migrant Protection Protocol.
The policy aims to prevent migrants from waiting within U.S. borders while asylum requests are being processed, and to decrease the number of migrants fleeing to the border overall.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson weighed in on the new policy saying, “For far too long, our immigration system has been exploited by smugglers, traffickers, and those who have no legal rights to remain in the United States.”
The policy is set to be introduced first in the San Ysidro port of entry in southern California.
Asylum seekers will be bused to and from court appearances, and are required to appear before a judge within 45 days.
According to officials, the new rule will apply to those seeking asylum in the U.S. and those who have crossed illegally.