Will the United States reinstate the “Stay in Mexico” policy? | Migration News


Washington D.C.- The administration of US President Joe Biden announced on October 15 that it plans to bring back a Trump-era asylum policy along the US-Mexico border from mid-November in accordance with a court order. .

In August, a Texas court ordered the US government to restart the program, called Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), saying it had been improperly halted by the Biden administration.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that “while the court injunction remains in effect, the Department has worked in good faith to restart the MPP.” But it is also working to end this policy through a memorandum “in the coming weeks”, he said.

The announcement was a puzzling development amid an already volatile situation unfolding along the country’s southern border. Amid a 20-year record of migrant arrivals, the Biden administration has come under pressure from hardline Republican leaders who have held him responsible for the surge in numbers. He also faces heavy criticism from immigration advocates, who have said the administration is failing to deliver on campaign promises to implement more humane border policies.

What is MPP?

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who made restricting immigration to the United States a central goal of his administration, created the MPP. The policy came into effect in January 2019.

Commonly referred to as the “Stay in Mexico” program, it required people seeking asylum at the border to wait for court dates, which were weeks or months away, in Mexico.

At least 70,000 people were subject to the policy, including children. This policy effectively put an end to the asylum system. It has been heavily criticized by rights groups who have argued that it violates US and international law and puts migrants at risk in dangerous border towns.

At least 70,000 people, including children, were subject to the MPP. Some 25,000 people were paroled in the US earlier this year, but thousands more have dropped their claims [Paul Ratje/Reuters]

What did the Biden administration do?

On his first day in office, Jan. 20, 2021, Biden stopped accepting new people into the program, fulfilling a campaign promise. His administration then began phasing in people who were still waiting in Mexico to come to the United States to pursue their claims. More than 25,000 have been released on parole in the United States as of February.

The Biden administration officially ended the policy in June 2021 through a memo.

What was the response?

On April 13, 2021, Texas and Missouri, two Republican-led states, for follow-up the Biden administration arguing that ending the MPP was “arbitrary and capricious”.

In August, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed district court judge in Texas, ruled in favor of the states, ordering the Biden administration to reinstate the policy. the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration, declining to grant its request for a stay of the ruling saying, “The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the allegation that the memorandum overriding the migrant protection protocols was not arbitrary and capricious.”

The States lawsuit alleged that the end of the MPP was responsible for the increase in arrivals at the border and that the program had a significant deterrent effect against “weak” asylum applications from “economic migrants”. The lawsuit also argued that the entry of more migrants into the states of Texas and Missouri made them less safe and forced them to spend more taxpayer dollars on health care, education and housing. immigrants.

Rights groups have said the MPP makes it difficult for migrants to gain asylum in the United States. It also forced them to stay in dangerous border towns in Mexico [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

What are advocacy organizations saying?

Immigration advocates have criticized the MPP since its inception. They said the policy made it difficult for asylum seekers to have their cases heard, let alone be granted. It also limited their access to a lawyer.

Migrants often waited in dangerous Mexican border towns, many of which are controlled by drug cartels. Many others have completely dropped their claims. In February 2021, at least 1,544 migrants under MPP have been killed, assaulted, robbed, kidnapped or raped according to Human Rights First, a US-based rights organization.

Eleanor Acer, director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said the Biden administration had not demonstrated it was dedicated enough to end the MPP, citing that it had yet to issue another notice of termination.

“If the Biden administration really wanted to end the MPP completely, they would take a different position in court, they would consider this program illegal, they would have issued a termination notice immediately or very shortly after the supreme decision. Court decision,” Acer told Al Jazeera.

The Biden administration is also using another controversial health policy favored by Trump: Title 42. Citing the need to protect the country from the spread of COVID-19, the policy allows for the rapid deportation of asylum seekers at the border. , without giving them the opportunity to file a complaint.

What is the Biden administration saying now?

The Biden administration has said it will issue another memorandum to end the MPP, but has not set a date. In the meantime, the administration said it was complying “in good faith” with the court order requiring the program to be reapplied.

“DHS will also issue a memorandum terminating MPP,” DHS said in an email to Al Jazeera. “By issuing this new memo, DHS intends to address concerns about the previous memo that sought to end the MPP.”

DHS added that it is contracting to build temporary tents near the border where hearings will be conducted.

Last month, nearly 15,000 Haitian migrants gathered under a bridge in South Texas in hopes of seeking asylum. The United States deported nearly 8,000 people to Haiti under Title 42 [Felix Marquez/AP Photo]

What is Mexico’s position?

The implementation of the MPP depends on the approval and cooperation of the Mexican government.

So far, Mexico has said it is negotiating with the United States on the issue and has offered terms to resume the program. According to court documents, the Mexican government wants cases to be closed within six months and for asylum seekers to have adequate access to information about their court dates.

In a statement, Mexico’s foreign ministry said it also wants applicants to have better access to legal representation and for “particularly vulnerable populations” to be exempted from the program.


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