Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden fulfilled one of his campaign promises to end the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), which is also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
However, on December 2, 2021, the Biden administration reached an agreement with the Mexican government to reinstate the policy.
The Trump-era program has forced approximately 70,000 South American migrants seeking entry to the U.S. to be sent to Mexico for months while they await decisions on their immigration cases. Many of these migrants lived in overcrowded shelters or run-down encampments and were frequently targeted by gang members.
The return of the program was ordered by a federal court in Texas—as part of a lawsuit brought by Texas and Missouri—to continue to make migrants wait in Mexico until the Biden administration expands its capacity to detain these individuals in the United States. The Supreme Court has denied Biden’s request to block the lower court ruling.
Although Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has stated the “Remain in Mexico” policy will eventually end, not only has the Biden administration reinstated MPP, but it has also expanded the program. Now, all citizens of Western Hemisphere countries—including Haiti—are subject to the policy, unless they are eligible for an exemption determined by individual border agents. This means the program could cover more migrants than it did during the Trump era.
The Biden administration promises to complete all cases in the program within six months after the migrant is sent to Mexico. However, the same time frame applied for the Trump administration, but it failed because of backlogs in immigration courts and lack of prioritization, which are the same limitations the current administration still faces.
The U.S. said it will work together with the Mexican government to provide migrants enrolled in the program with “safe and secure” shelters, despite the fact the border is already overwhelmed. Border agents are now tasked to screen migrants to see if they have a “reasonable possibility” of any fear of harm if returned to Mexico.
The two countries have also assured that migrants would be transported to and from US ports of entry safely, and able to obtain health care, work permits, and other services. While migrants will have access to a lawyer prior to interviews with border agents, most of them cannot afford legal counsel or have access to free services.
According to a report by Human Rights First, over 1,500 homicides, rapes, kidnappings, and other attacks have been committed against migrants who have returned to Mexico under MPP, as of February 2021. Thousands of asylum seekers at detention centers located in the US-Mexico border have been subject to physical violence and threats.
If you or a loved one is interested in filing for asylum in Phoenix, call Kanu & Associates, P.C. at (602) 353-7795 or fill out our online contact form today to request a case evaluation. Get an immigration attorney with more than 20 years of legal experience on your side!