Border agents have reportedly been instructed to target Spanish speakers and migrants from Latin America in deciding which asylum-seekers should be forced to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed. Citing a memo from a division chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, the Associated Press reports that the guidelines are part of the Trump administration's so-called “Remain in Mexico” program, under which only certain groups are allowed to have their asylum claims processed in U.S. courts. The program initially applied only to those who turned themselves in at official border crossings but was reportedly expanded Friday to include people who cross the border illegally. Per the new instructions, pregnant women, LGBT migrants and people suffering medical issues are not to be sent back to Mexico. U.S. officials must also check if the asylum seeker has any felony convictions, and notify Mexico at least 12 hours before they are returned. The program comes in light of a recent surge in border arrests, which skyrocketed in February to a 12-year-high. Guatemala and Honduras are now the top countries for asylum seeking migrants.
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