Tent courts set to open on border for US asylum seekers

Tent courts set to open on border for US asylum seekers
Located a short distance from the Rio Grande, the Migrant Protection Protocols Immigration Hearing Facilities in Laredo, Texas, are adjacent to the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge. Hearings for immigrants seeking asylum are set to begin Monday, September 16, 2019. (Ricardo Santos/The Laredo Morning Times via AP)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The Trump administration is ready to open a tent court on the border to handle cases of asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico, with hearings held entirely by videoconference.

The court is scheduled to begin operations Monday in Laredo, Texas. Another is expected to open in Brownsville.

The administration introduced its “Remain in Mexico” policy in San Diego in January and expanded to El Paso, Texas, but hearings there are conducted inside large buildings with normal courtrooms, and the judge usually appears in person.

U.S. officials say the Laredo court will handle as many as 300 cases a day. Asylum seekers have been told to report more than four hours before their court time.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy, assailed by critics for making families wait in violent Mexico border cities, has become a key piece of the U.S. response to a large increase in asylum-seeking families.