DHS Attempts to End ‘Stay in Mexico’ Policy Again, Despite Court Order – Cronkite News

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Migrants return to Mexico after being met by Border Patrol agents near Sasabe in this March 2020 photo. The Biden administration is again trying to end Trump administration migrant protection protocols that automatically returned asylum seekers, after courts ruled in August that the so-called “stay in Mexico” policy must remain in place. (Photo by Jerry Glaser/Customs and border protection)

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday it would end migrant protection protocols, its second attempt to reverse the Trump-era “stay in Mexico” policy that has been keeping asylum seekers waiting. in Mexico while their case is under review.

In a note Released on Friday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged that the policy “probably helped reduce migration flows” at the southern border. But he said it had drained too many of the agency’s resources from other border efforts to impose a policy that resulted in “unjustifiable human costs” for the migrants affected.

This is the second time in five months that DHS has said it will end MPP, after the first effort in June was overturned by a federal district judge who ordered the agency to reinstate the program. This order remains in place for the time being and Mayorkas said the government will respect this decision – essentially trying to reinstate the MPP while working to remove the policy.

Critics of the MPP, such as Vicki Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, said it was “ridiculous that this program was even started. It was, you know, the idea of ​​someone who is very anti-immigrant that was implemented.

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But Ira Mehlman, director of media at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the program should not have been scrapped in the first place and should be reinstated as soon as possible.

“If the Biden administration actually gets there, and has given every indication that it’s going to be dragging its feet,” Mehlman said on Friday, ahead of the release of Mayorkas’ memo, “it would be a very valuable tool for reduce the flow of people crossing this border illegally.

Jessica Bolter, associate policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute, said reinstating the MPP “is going to make it much more difficult for migrants…to access a lawyer and obtain redress in the courts of the United States.” ‘immigration’ after being deported to Mexico.

The debate comes as the number of migrants apprehended at the southern border has reached what Mehlman called “crisis proportions”. Customs and Border Protection reported this month that its officers apprehended more than 1.7 million immigrants at the southern border in fiscal year 2021, the highest in over 60 years and a sharp jump from the previous year.

The Migrant protection Protocols were initiated by the administration of President Donald Trump during the last wave of migrants at the border, in 2019. Under this policy, immigrants who come to the southern border to seek asylum will have their applications processed – but they have to cross the border again. and wait in Mexico for a hearing, instead of being allowed to wait in the United States as had been the practice.

Customs and Border Protection officials processed asylum seekers in February, when the Biden administration first attempted to end migrant protection protocols. (Photo by Glenn Fawcett/Customs and border protection)

Critics said the policy violated international laws regarding asylum seekers and put already vulnerable migrants in dangerous situations by forcing them to live in makeshift camps plagued by health, sanitation and violence.

A report 2019 by Human Rights First reported more than 600 attacks, including rapes, robberies and kidnappings of migrants who had been turned away under the stay in Mexico policy.

Biden ordered a study of the program’s effectiveness within days of taking office this year, and Mayorkas responded on June 1 with A memo that we must put an end to “staying in Mexico”. But the states of Texas and Missouri went to court to have the policy reinstated, arguing that Mayorkas failed to follow proper procedures when deciding to end the policy.

A U.S. District Court in Texas agreed, ordered the government to apply the MPP “in good faith” until it has followed the proper procedures to terminate it or “until the federal government has sufficient detention capacity to detain” all immigrants subject to detention. The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court declined in August to block the decision.

DHS said at the time that it would “vigorously challenge” the district court’s decision, but would work to implement the MPP in the interim.

As of Friday, however, the policy had not been reinstated, in part because the United States had failed to convince the Mexican government to accept migrants turned back at the US border.

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“Mexico has made it clear that it will not accept those whom the United States seeks to return to Mexico under the MPP unless substantial improvements are made to the program,” Mayorkas said in his order, which said the program “has put a strain on the United States”. -Relations with Mexico.

He said the policy talks had “played a particularly outsized role in diplomatic engagements with Mexico,” distracting attention from efforts to jointly combat cross-border crime and smuggling and “address the root causes. depths of migration”.

In a 39-page document Accompanying his memo, Mayorkas detailed his efforts to fully review the policy and meet with all parties before deciding that “the benefits of MPP are far outweighed by the costs.”

The document also cited alternative efforts by the Biden administration, including additional judges and changes to the asylum roster aimed at speeding up the processing of asylum applications, and programs to address the root causes of migration that cause people to leave their country of origin in the first place.

Mehlman said the Biden administration “has bent over backwards to appease crowds at open borders, despite polls telling us that two-thirds of the American public disagrees.”

But Gaubeca doesn’t think the administration has done enough to “reverse some of Trump’s damaging policies,” but she hopes to see change.

“I would just try to encourage the administration to have more courage, and to finally decide that they’re going to do things differently, and they’re going to change the way things have been done for the past three decades. “, she said. said.

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