Biden administration to restart ‘Remain in Mexico’


The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Dec. 2 that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy for asylum-seekers also known as “Remain in Mexico.” The announcement follows an August US Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration.

The Remain in Mexico policy was originally announced by the Trump administration in 2018 and officially implemented in 2019. It required that certain non-citizens entering the US from Mexico either illegally or without proper documentation be returned to Mexico and wait there for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Officially, Mexico was to provide humanitarian protection for the duration of their stay. The Trump DHS argued that MPP was necessary to restore an orderly immigration process and reduce frivolous asylum claims. However, critics contended that conditions in Mexico were dangerous, and that the policy impermissibly restricted seekers’ access to legal counsel and protections.

The MPP was discontinued in 2021 by the Biden administration, but Texas and Missouri suedin federal court, arguing that the sudden change in policy was arbitrary and capricious, and would put enormous strain on border states. A district court agreed and issued an injunction against the MPP discontinuation, which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stay. The Supreme Court ultimately denied the government’s request for a stay of the district court’s injunction, requiring the Biden administration to restart MPP.

Stating that MPP “has endemic flaws, imposed unjustified human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and failed to address the root causes of irregular migration,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that DHS was nevertheless prepared to reimplement MPP to comply with the court order, provided that the government of Mexico agreed. The MPP is expected to restart on Dec. 6.

Current international law disfavors certain aspects of MPP. The 1951 UN Convention & Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees requires states to grant refugees the right to seek asylum, to have free access to courts, and to be afforded movement within the country. It also prohibits expulsion (“refoulement”) to a country where their lives or freedom may be threatened.

From Jurist, Dec. 2. Used with permission

See our last report on the fight over “Remain in Mexico

Photo: WikiImages via Jurist

  1. New ‘Remain in Mexico’ to include Haitians

    A new version of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) is set to take effect in entry ports along the southwest border. The Biden administration was required by court order to restart the controversial Trump-era policy. But the new administration is also expanding it.

    Tens of thousands of asylum seekers were forced to wait for US immigration hearings under Trump. But only those from Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil were eligible for MPP under Trump. The new policy expands to include countries across the entire Western Hemisphere, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo.

    This means, critically, Haitians, who have recently been subject to mass expulsion at the Texas border. (Fronteras)

  2. Court strikes down Biden effort to end ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

    The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Dec. 13 denied the Biden administration’s appeal to terminate the Trump-era Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), affirming a Texas district court’s decision requiring the administration to leave the MPP intact. (Jurist)

  3. ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy reinstated into San Diego county

    The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) announcedJan. 3 that the Biden Administration had allowed the controversial Migrant Protection Protocol program (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico,” to be reimplemented in San Diego county.

    Calling the resumption of MPP “cruel and unjust,” the ACLU called on the Biden administration to permanently re-terminate the program and allow entrance to the US for asylum-seekers on the southern border. The statement indicated that 70,000 asylum-seekers have been made to wait in poor conditions in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed in the US.

    Such re-termination appears unlikely at this time, as the Department of Homeland Security announced in December 2021 its intentions to comply with federal court orders to reinstate MPP across the southern border. (Jurist)

  4. SCOTUS agrees to hear ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy case

    The US Supreme Court agreed Feb. 18 to hear oral arguments in Biden v. Texas. The Biden administration seeks a declaration that it may cease enforcement of the “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy first implemented by former President Trump. (Jurist)

  5. SCOTUS: Biden may end ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

    The Supreme Court on June 30 rejected a challenge to the Biden administration’s efforts to end a Trump-era immigration program that forces asylum-seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico. The 5-4 decision for the administration was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. (NYT, AP)

  6. Biden administration ends ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

    The US Department of Homeland Security announced Aug. 8 that it will end implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols Program (MPP). There will be no new enrollees in the program, and migrants currently waiting in Mexico will be permitted to enter the US for their next scheduled court dates. (Jurist)

  7. Judge blocks Biden bid to end ‘Remain in Mexico’

    A federal judge on Dec. 15 temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending a Trump-era policy requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in US immigration court. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas stayed the termination until legal challenges by Texas and Missouri are settled. although he didn’t explicitly order the policy reinstated.

    The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that Biden had the ability to end what technically are known as Migrant Protection Protocols. But it threw back to Kacsmaryk one main issue: determining whether the administration’s action was “arbitrary and capricious” and thus violated federal law for crafting regulations.

    Under President Trump, about 70,000 asylum-seekers were forced to wait in Mexico for US hearings under the policy introduced in January 2019. President Biden suspended the policy on his first day in office, saying it “goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants.” (AP)