‘Stay in Mexico’ policy could restart in ‘coming weeks,’ DOJ officials tell federal court


Mexico would be on the verge of signing the return of migrants

Mexican troops help guard a migrant encampment on January 17, 2020 in Matamoros, Mexico, where thousands of asylum seekers had been returned to Mexico under the Trump administration to await the completion of their proceedings in the U.S. Court of immigration. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

McALLEN, TX (Border report) – The controversial Trump-era “Stay in Mexico” policy – ​​which required migrants to wait south of the Mexican border during their immigration process – could start again “in the coming weeks”, according to a federal court brief filed this week by Justice Department officials.

The four-page document filed Monday in Amarillo, Texas, said the Mexican government is set to accept migrants who are returned from the United States under the program, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.

DHS “is prepared to reimplement MPP shortly after the Government of Mexico (GOM) makes an independent decision to accept the return of individuals whom the Department seeks to enroll in the program,” the assistant attorney general wrote per interim Brian Boynton.

Mexico apparently has a major sticking point, although the brief does not detail what it is.

A previous court filing from October 14 listed several of Mexico’s concerns, including the number of migrants who will be returned daily, whether non-Spanish speakers will be returned, and ensuring that vulnerable people, such as the sick, elderly or LGBTQ will not be returned. return.

Construction workers are seen October 18, 2021, beginning to build a soft-sided tent in Laredo, Texas, on the banks of the Rio Grande for migrants being returned to Mexico under the MPP, which could start soon. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

“Regular, high-level meetings” were held with Mexican officials “to discuss GOM concerns regarding the prior implementation of the MPP and to explore possible solutions,” according to the court brief. They have “made significant progress and are close to finalizing these discussions”.

Although the Biden administration shut down the MPP when Joe Biden took office, the states of Texas and Missouri sued the federal government to restore the program. In August, the Supreme Court refused to block a lower court injunction ordering the program to resume.

Monday’s brief was a second supplemental notice of compliance from the defendants, but it signaled that the MPP was about to be restarted.

Migrants line up for food on December 22, 2019 in Matamoros, Mexico, where thousands of asylum seekers lived after they were sent to wait in Mexico by the Trump administration. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

More than 71,000 migrants were forced south of the border after the program began in 2019.

Migrant advocates say it is illegal and inhumane and puts the lives of migrants at risk by forcing them to live in dangerous border towns in northern Mexico plagued by killings and kidnappings.

“We believe that using the MPP as a deterrent is illegal and inhumane and deprives people of due process,” American Immigration Council policy counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick told Border Report on Tuesday.

Reichlin-Melnick says the Biden administration cannot guarantee that migrants living in Mexico will have access to proper legal advice in the United States.

“No steps can be taken to ensure that MPP members have the same access to counsel as those in the United States. It’s literally impossible. Therefore, any attempt by the U.S. and Mexican governments to make a deal where there is supposedly access to counsel is basically a sham because, as the secretary acknowledged, that is not possible,” said Melnick.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a 30-page memo on Oct. 29 to end the policy decrying that: “the MPP had endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, diverted resources and personnel from other priority efforts, and failed to address the root causes of irregular migration”.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University research organization, this week reported that in October, 18 asylum seekers were placed in MPP, according to court documents obtained by the organization.

However, TRAC researcher Austin Kocher told Border Report that they did not come to a conclusive understanding of how these cases were classified in a program that apparently has not been restarted. “But 18 is not a stroke of luck. Yet the number is small enough (and things are more confusing politically now) that it’s hard to say exactly what’s going on,” he said.

the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, which lists MPP entries dating from 2019, has no placement list in October.

Border Report has contacted DHS officials for clarification on this data. This story will be updated if additional information is received.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.


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