“Remain in Mexico” Program to restart by Biden administration

December 4, 2021

biden administration to restart ‘remain in mexico’ program under court order

Washington – The Biden administration said that it will re-start the Trump-era border program known as “Remain in Mexico” Program next week due to a court order, meaning the US will again send migrants to Mexico to await their immigration hearings.

Implementation of the program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), will begin Monday at one border location and quickly expand to seven cities.

This program was suspended at the beginning of President Joe Biden’s term and formally terminated months later.

But in August, a federal judge in Texas said the Biden administration had violated federal law in how it had gone about unwinding the program and required that it be reported.

Humanitarian Concerns

The Department of Homeland Security said it would make humanitarian changes to the program before it is re-implemented, including providing Covid-19 vaccinations for migrants and expanding the categories for potential exemption from the program to include particularly vulnerable people like those with physical and mental health issues.

The U.S. also will ensure migrants have access to free phone calls “and, when feasible, video connection” in order to communicate with their attorneys. 

The immigration court system, however, does not provide free attorneys to those who cannot afford them.

The return of MPP is awkward for the Biden administration, which is still formally preparing to end the program even as it brings it back under court order.

Title 42

With the relaunch of “Remain in Mexico,” two controversial Trump-era border policies will be in place under Biden. The Trump-era public health order known as “Title 42” that allows for the swift expulsion of migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border remains in effect.

The health order will take precedence over the Migrant Protection Protocols, meaning that the US will continue to expel eligible individuals under the health order. 

Those who are not expelled under the health order will be considered on a case-by-case basis to wait in Mexico for their court hearings.

“The Government of Mexico reiterates the importance of strengthening development cooperation to address the root causes of immigration,” the Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“In addition, it reconfirms the goal of administering the migration policy that respects migrants’ human rights to achieve orderly, safe and regular migration in the region.”

For instance, there were at least 1,544 publicly documented cases of rape, kidnapping, assault, and other crimes committed against individuals sent back under MPP through February 2021, according to Human Rights First. 

Some Mexican officials believed the program functioned as a deterrent and would lead to fewer migrants transiting through the country, even though it effectively created refugee camps along the border.

But after Biden suspended the policy, Mexico bristled against the idea of implementing it once again in response to the court order.

Mexico’s asylum system is also coping with a surge of applications. By the end of November, the country’s refugee agency had registered 123,187 applications for refugee status, 75% more than in 2019, according to Andres Ramirez Silva, the head of agency.

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