On August 8, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement the end of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) policy. The announcement came after a federal district court, following a Supreme Court June 2022 decision, lifted an injunction that had blocked the Biden administration’s termination of the policy and compelled its re-enforcement.
While the district court order was in effect, thousands more asylum seekers were referred by DHS to unsafe parts of Mexico. There they were forced to wait for immigration court hearings when they were almost completely cut off from lawyers who could represent them in their asylum claims. In December 2021, DHS said that by reimplementing the RMX, it had taken steps to “to improve protections” and “protect right of individuals to a full and fair hearing.”
But the RMX policy – and others like it that would force asylum seekers to wait outside the United States for their cases to be heard – simply cannot be implemented legally, safely, fairly or humanely. . During the court-ordered reimplementation of RMX (or RMX 2.0), asylum seekers reported horrific kidnappings, rapes, and other violent attacks after DHS returned them to Mexico. The RMX hearings also remained a farce of due process. Only a tiny percentage of people whose cases have been decided under RMX 2.0 have managed to find lawyers to represent them. A tiny number of Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans subject to this policy have been granted asylum – just 63 people out of more than 1,600 cases handled.
The Biden administration is right honored his election pledge to end this fatally flawed policy and properly terminated the police after the initial legal challenge. Congress created the Asylum System Within the Borders of the United States specifically to adjudicate the cases of asylum seekers arrival or after crossing the border. RMX violates U.S. law and international treaty obligations, denies refugee protection to people fleeing persecution and torture, and results in widespread human rights violations against those returned to Mexico. In August 2022, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called the United States to “double efforts to quickly end” RMX, noting its “disparate impact . . . on migrants of African and Hispanic/Latino descent. As the DHS Secretary concluded , Alejandro Mayorkas, RMX “a endemic defects», « imposes unjustifiable human costs » and has «inherent problems . . . that no amount of resources can sufficiently repair. The RMX should never be resurrected by a future administration, passed into law by Congress, or again forced into use by the courts.
DHS stopped placing new people on the RMX and began slowly transiting some people to the United States to continue their cases safely. But he has yet to announce a plan to help the remaining people who were left behind in the initial RMX liquidation, or explain how he will ensure due process for asylum seekers ordered deported. under RMX 2.0 who also did not receive full and fair hearings.
This slow process of liquidation comes as state politicians aligned with the former Trump administration seek, once again, to force the return of RMX. After the Supreme Court dismissed their original case, they amended their lawsuit to challenge the DHS memoranda to re–end politics. In early September 2022, the same district court that ordered the Biden administration to restart RMX will review this latest cynical ploy to force the policy to continue – an attempt to once again block asylum seekers from security and submit to the horrific human rights abuses described in this report.
At the same time, the equally harmful Title 42 policy remains in effect. A court ruling blocking its termination has resulted in the continued closure of normal processing of asylum applications at ports of entry and the continuation of deportations to highly dangerous locations, which, for the time being, target asylum seekers and migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
Working closely with many other organizations, Human Rights First has monitored and reported on the Stay in Mexico policy since its inception in January 2019, conducting extensive research and publishing a series of reports in February 2019, August 2019, October 2019 , December 2019. , January 2020, May 2020, December 2020, December 2021 and January 2022. This report is based on in-person interviews conducted by Human Rights First with lawyers and RMX registrants in Tijuana in April and September 2022; remote interviews conducted between April and September 2022 with lawyers and asylum seekers returned to Mexico under RMX 2.0; a review of anonymized notes of nearly 2,700 interviews conducted by pro bono law firms and non-governmental organizations providing legal information to individuals placed in the RMX 2.0 (representing about a quarter of all RMX registrants under the Biden administration); government data, media reports and other human rights reports.