EL PASO, Texas -- The processing of migrant asylum seekers who are currently under the Migrant Protection Protocol in Mexico is set to begin on Feb. 26 in El Paso, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Although the start of the phased approach of processing starts this Friday, DHS said processing is not beginning at all of the three ports that will be used, or at full capacity, on that day. The two other ports of entry are in San Ysirdo, California and Brownsville, Texas. Brownsville's port of entry will begin processing Feb. 22.
DHS said it will begin by "processing limited numbers of individuals to ensure any logistical challenges are identified and addressed before ramping up to full capacity. " DHS plans on expanding capacity to several hundred people a day at designated ports within the next couple of days or weeks.
DHS added that the department along with United Nations Refugee Agency and the Mexican government will begin initiating a virtual registration process Friday.
"DHS is also planning to begin processing a limited number of individuals who were registered ahead of time by international organizations through the San Ysidro port of entry."
Migrant advocacy groups like the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services are helping asylum seekers with their court cases. Both groups have nearly 150 MPP cases combined.
Representatives from both groups said they were told DHS would only start processing 25 people per day.
But the groups are frustrated the online portal for registration still isn’t open. With El Paso the last port of entry to begin processing, the groups say they would be relying on their counter-parts in California to learn how processing will work.
As ABC-7 previously reported, El Paso city officials have been preparing for what could be a possible migrant influx.
"We are looking at it very closely and ensuring that we have the protections, not only for the volunteers, but ensuring those congregate settings are going to have the resources they need," said El Paso Deputy Fire Chief Jorge Rodriguez, who coordinates the Office of Emergency Management.