Migrants remain at risk despite the end of the “Remain in Mexico” policy


The Supreme Court has given the Biden administration the green light to end a Trump-era policy aimed at deterring migration at the southern border.

Known as the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remaining in Mexico”, this policy required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico pending their immigration process for up to 180 days, with limited access to legal aid. The Biden administration first tried to end the MPP in February 2021, but Texas and Missouri sued the federal government and a federal judge ordered the program reinstated in August. The administration tried to end the program once again in October 2021, but lost its appeal in December 2021 before the notoriously conservative US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The case reached the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in June in favor of the Biden administration.

According to Julia Neusner, associate lawyer for Human Rights First’s refugee protection program, the migrants were still being processed to become MLAs even after the Supreme Court ruling. More than a month after the Supreme Court’s ruling, on August 8, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk finally reversed the ruling he issued last year ordering Biden to reinstate the program, easing the entry into force of the Supreme Court’s decision. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statement published on August 8 clarified that migrants already registered with the MPP will be processed in the United States, where they will be allowed to continue their asylum applications. According to research from Syracuse University, 5,000 asylum seekers were added to the MPP during the Biden administration. During the Trump administration, 71,000 migrants were enrolled in the program. In the meantime, Neusner told Prism that shelters in Mexico are still operating until everyone enrolled in the program can be processed.

“We are really happy to hear that the program is finally over,” Neusner said. “I would just prefer the US government to process people faster because many people remain in danger in Mexico.”

The MPP has forced asylum seekers and migrants to remain in dangerous conditions across the southwestern border for months and, in some cases, years. When the policy was expanded in December 2021 to encompass all Western Hemisphere asylum seekers, including Haitians on the run gang violence, political instability and other humanitarian crises – advocacy groups like Human Rights First have expressed concern that expanding the MPP would be deadly for already vulnerable migrants.

According to a joint report from 12 human rights organizations, between February 2019 and February 2021, there were at least 1,544 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other violent assaults against asylum seekers. asylum and migrants forced to return to Mexico under the MPP. These attacks included 341 cases of children who were abducted.

While the MPP is officially over, Neusner said it only represents about 1% of people crossing the border, while Title 42, a 76-year-old public health law that allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) banning certain people from entering the United States to prevent the spread of communicable diseases remains in place and affects 61% of people crossing the border.

“Even now that the stay in Mexico is over, Title 42 prohibits access to asylum at ports of entry,” Neusner said. “Even though people may be allowed to seek asylum, they still cannot access asylum at a port of entry. They will therefore be turned away. The only way for them to gain access to asylum is to cross from one port to another, through the desert and at the mercy of organized crime. Politics continues to put everyone at risk in this regard.

The CDC invoked Title 42 in March 2020 at the request of white nationalist and former senior White House adviser Stephen Miller. According to epidemiologists, public health experts and advocacy groups like Physicians for Human Rights, title 42 “has been used as a political tool without any scientific basis”. (There is also evidence that Title 42 actually AIDS in the transmission of COVID-19.)

In April, the CDC proposed to cancel title 42. However, the following month a district court prohibited the repeal of the policy after more than 20 states filed a politically motivated complaint using the xenophobic argument that ending Title 42 would create a financial burden due to the increased number of asylum seekers entering their jurisdictions. The policy remains in place today. Not only does he continue to fly in the face of the Refugee Conventionbut policy stands even as new CDC guidelines to abandon scientifically proven methods to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Guidelines released this week by the CDC do not require people to self-quarantine after being exposed to the coronavirus.

For some asylum seekers who have been trapped in Mexico, recent court battles over MPP and Title 42 are just further complications to an already confusing legal system. Julieta, who uses a pseudonym for security reasons, told Prism that she had never even heard of the MPP and had “no idea” if it would affect her ability to eventually enter. in the USA.

It took Julieta and her partner just three days to drive from Honduras to Mexico, and they’ve spent the past seven months living hand-to-mouth, first in Tapachula and then in Monterrey. They go wherever they can find shelter or legal help, Julieta explained. For the past five months, the couple have lived among a larger group of migrants in Piedras Negras, where many asylum seekers were sexually assaulted and kidnapped. Julieta’s sexual orientation puts her at increased risk of violence in Mexico, the same homophobic and gender-based violence she tried to escape in Honduras.

Julieta said being openly gay in her family and community in Honduras was like being “in hell”.

“The reason we migrated is because of the constant discrimination and homophobia we face,” Julieta said. “In my country, people threatened my life. I was stabbed [because of my sexual orientation]. My family chased me away. I feel so hopeless ’cause we’re scared to be here too [in Mexico]. We have been threatened and we are afraid to continue sleeping on the streets.

Last month, Border Report detailed how across Mexico’s border towns, “opaque waiting lists” for a chance at asylum in the United States have multiplied by the thousands. In Piedras Negras, when the list for a migrant center reached 2,000, no other names were added. It’s a confusing process, and as Border Report noted, “migrants often don’t know how to register or even that lists exist.”

This is the case of Julieta, who does not know how to register on such a list or the steps to follow to request asylum in the United States. She said she was waiting for legal or other assistance to guide her through the process. , but no help came – and migrant centers and shelters do not have the capacity to help people seeking asylum.

Human rights monitoring report published in 2020 revealed that there is rampant violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in Honduras and other Central American countries. In Honduras, more than 300 LGBTQ+ people have been killed since 2009, according to 2021 Data of the Honduran defense group, Las Cattrachas. Julieta said that given past persecution, including being stabbed, she feared for her life in Honduras. Apparently that should make her a serious candidate for asylum, but the laws are complicated and confusing and Julieta said she couldn’t see the way forward without some sort of assistance. So she expects in Piedras Negras “a kind of miracle”.

“It is very laborious and confusing to legally enter the United States. I thought about crossing illegally, but I can’t. It is very expensive and I have no money. I don’t have papers to work in Mexico and I can’t even find a job because people discriminate against me,” Julieta said. She also explained that she has family in the United States who will not help her because she is gay.

While many in the US have celebrated the end of the MPP, it has little effect on asylum seekers like Julieta, who risks physical injury every night she and her partner sleep on the streets. of Piedras Negras.

The life Julieta wants in the United States is simple, but right now it seems out of reach.

“I just want a safe place to live and work,” Julieta said. “I don’t want to feel rejected by people anymore. I want to feel peace and be happy without being afraid of being hurt.


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