US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials detain a group of migrants on the US-Mexico border [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

The United States will expand the scope of a controversial programme that returns non-Mexican migrants and asylum seekers crossing Mexico’s border to that country to await their US court hearings, the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday.

Washington already has sent more than 56,000 migrants to Mexico under the programme, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The majority have been Central Americans applying for US asylum.

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The effort – which had been implemented over the past year at ports of entry in Texas and California — will be applied at a port of entry south of Tucson, Arizona. Previously, migrants encountered

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