The White House is pulling the plug on the Migrant Protection Protocols after a federal judge on Aug. 8 lifted an injunction requiring the continued use of the Trump administration anti-asylum policy.
The action by Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk in the U.S. District of Northern Texas reversed his previous order that blocked the Biden administration from ending MPP. That was before a June 30 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the president has the authority to end the policy also known as “Remain in Mexico.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the dismantling of the controversial program already is underway.
“DHS is committed to ending the court-ordered implementation of MPP in a quick and orderly manner. Individuals are no longer being newly enrolled into MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date. Individuals disenrolled from MPP will continue their removal proceedings in the United States,” the agency said in an Aug. 8 news release.
The policy was implemented by the Trump administration in 2019 to counter large numbers of migrants crossing the southern border into the United States and to put an end to the country’s asylum process. MPP since has been used to force tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases grind through the American legal system. In Mexico, they have faced abuse, extortion and even death.
MPP since has been used to force tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases grind through the American legal system.
“MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” DHS said.
But the end of “Remain in Mexico” does not mean the ordeal is over for many migrants encountering harsher treatment at the border.
“DHS continues to enforce our nation’s immigration and public health laws, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order as required by court order,” the department said. “Individuals encountered at the southwest border who cannot establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed or expelled.”
As part of his strident anti-immigration platform, Trump implemented Title 42 in 2020 to summarily deport migrants to Mexico or their home countries using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover. It remains in effect by order of a federal judge and has resulted in about 1.8 million deportations of asylum seekers and other immigrants seeking entry into the United States, according to the American Immigration Council.
Taken together, Title 42 and “Remain in Mexico” created chaos for those seeking legal entry into the U.S.
The American Immigration Council estimates that 700,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico since “Remain in Mexico” was implemented.
Immigrant advocates have condemned the program because it circumvents decades of American asylum practice, including allowing asylum seekers to remain in the U.S. for the months and sometimes years it takes for their cases to be adjudicated. That already slow system was further disabled by the Trump administration through intentional lack of staffing.
Immigration advocates and human rights groups have blasted Trump’s policies for placing asylum seekers in dangerous settings in Mexico where they face abduction, assault, rape, murder and other crimes.
“The so-called Migrant Protection Protocols have always put human beings in danger and run counter to due process.”
“The so-called Migrant Protection Protocols have always put human beings in danger and run counter to due process,” said Dan Gordon, vice president of strategic communications at the National Immigration Forum. “MPP is not part of the orderly, secure and humane border policy we need. Congress and the Biden administration must work together to process arrivals effectively and efficiently, treat migrants with dignity, and address the root causes of migration.”
Church World Service applauded the latest development while further denouncing the creation of MPP.
“Vacating this injunction is an affirmation of what American immigration policy can be, if our leaders choose to protect the legal right to seek asylum and uphold the dignity of our neighbors,” said Meredith Owen, director of policy and advocacy. “Remain in Mexico was an illegal undermining of our asylum system. The policy cruelly dismissed the rights of those seeking safety and placed individuals and families back in harm’s way.”
Refugee International issued a statement celebrating the end of MPP but also urging Biden to move swiftly in dismantling it.
“Now the administration must swiftly bring those waiting in Mexico into the United States to pursue their cases,” the statement said. “We hope this marks the beginning of the end of dangerous externalization policies, a recommitment to the fundamental refugee law principal of non-refoulement, and to fulfilling a promise to rebuild a fair asylum system.”
Why all the fuss about the ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy? | Analysis by Elket Rodriguez