Biden Administration Makes Second Attempt to end “Remain in Mexico” Border Program

On Friday, it was announced by the Biden administration its second effort to revoke a Trump-era border strategy that pushes asylum applicants to remain in Mexico till their U.S. immigration court date.

Remain In Mexico

This shows up two weeks after the administration adhered to an order of a Texas federal judge to restore the policy, called as “Remain in Mexico,” by the middle of November. 

Though the administration is notching up the order to re-execute the policy, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared his plans to eliminate “Remain in Mexico” if the order is raised by the federal judge who released it or an appellate court.

He released a first memo that abolished the framework in June till the federal judge’s ruling crushed his plan.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, was initially executed in 2019 by the precedent President Donald Trump amidst a rise of Central American households crossing the southwest border. 

In the memo, it was admitted by Mayorkas that MPP is expected to decrease unauthorized migration to the U.S.-Mexico border within the Trump administration. But he claimed it levied “substantial and unjustifiable human costs” on the thousands of migrants who awaited in Mexico, proving an immense requirement to abolish the program.

In the new four-page memo, Mayorkas said, “The benefits of MPP are far outweighed by the costs of continuing to use the program on a programmatic basis, in whatever form,”

Remain in Mexico

Adding further, he stated, “MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, but it also fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that all persons deserve.”

President Joe Biden suspended MPP

President Joe Biden adjourned MPP on his very first day in office, claiming it inhumane because of the brutality migrants combatted whilst awaiting in Mexico. 

In April, this triggered the Republican-led states of Texas and Missouri to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration for abolishing the policy. In August, a federal judge for the Northern District of Texas upheld the states and directed the administration to restore the policy coming from the ruling of the lawsuit.

In August, the Supreme Court also refused the administration’s appeal to restrict the judge’s order. In the memo issued on Friday, Mayorkas highlighted the Biden administration’s explanation for abolishing MPP in an attempt to address the federal judge’s worries.

For example, he declared that the Mexican government claimed it will not welcome migrants that come back to Mexico under MPP until “substantial improvements” have been incorporated into the program.

But such enhancements would drag resources and personnel away from other “productive efforts” to consider the main reasons of migration and fight transnational criminal and smuggling channels as per the statement of Mayorkas.

He said in the memo “I have concluded that there are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix.” Mayorkas also highlighted that migrants deported to Mexico under MPP were prone to “extreme violence and insecurity” at the hands of transnational criminal organizations.

According to the American Immigration Council, since 2019 an anticipated 70,000 migrants were sent to Mexico under MPP. Migrants subject to the framework generally waited for months, if not years, to sight an immigration judge.

According to Human Rights First, whilst awaiting in Mexico, they also went through threats of extortion, kidnapping and sexual assault. There have been reports of a minimum of 1,544 cases of rape, kidnapping and assault, among other crimes, committed against migrants returned under the Trump-era policy since February this year.

What Has Been Said by Mayorkas While Supporting Biden’s Desire to End the MPP Policy?

Mayorkas stated the Biden administration is able to reduce migration towards the southern border and give shields to migrants who are eligible for asylum from other policies being evolved. This contains a fast-tracked immigration court plan and a suggested rule that would enable asylum authorities to “produce timely and fair decision-making” regarding asylum claims.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said “Once fully implemented, these policies will address migratory flows more effectively than MPP, while holding true to our nation’s values.”

The latest attempt by the Biden administration to abolish the framework was backed by certain Democrats, who have said against restoring it.

Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., stated in a Twitter post “The Remain in Mexico policy is one of the most destructive vestiges of Trump’s anti-immigrant legacy, and should be permanently discarded along with the many other remaining Trump admin policies willfully designed to punish & deter refugees from legally seeking safety in the U.S.”

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