President Biden reinstates the controversial Trump- Era Migrant Protection Protocols.
President Donald Trump first implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), often referred to as “Remain in Mexico,” policy in January 2019 after it was determined that the U.S was facing a security and humanitarian crisis on the Southern border. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Migrant Protection Protocols are a U.S. Government action whereby certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the United States from Mexico and certain Central and Southern American countries, without proper documentation, may be returned to Mexico and forced to wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Under this policy, many individuals and families who arrived at the southern border seeking asylum were processed and given notices to appear in immigration court but were then sent back to Mexico to await their next court hearing instead of being allowed to enter the U.S. and wait here.
More than 70,000 migrants were returned to Mexico since this policy was initiated in 2019 until it was terminated by the Biden administration on his first day in office in January 2021, according to the American Immigration Council. This policy created a concern amongst the migrants who left their country after being persecuted and traveled to the United States seeking asylum only to be instructed to return to Mexico for an undetermined time to wait for their pending immigration court hearing. These migrants faced many hardships in Mexico, such as lack of counsel and due process, Covid-19 exposure, lack of shelter, violence and extreme insecurity by having to wait in the extremely dangerous border towns where many migrants became victims of organized crime and other dangerous criminals.
On December 2, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that it was reinstating the MPP policy after being ordered by the Texas District court to reimplement it “in good faith.” President Joe Biden announced that he was reinstating MPP but with many changes in the policy after coordinating with the Mexican government on how they were going to address the humanitarian concerns that were raised previously. According to the Department of Homeland Security, these “key changes” include a commitment that proceedings will generally be concluded within six months of an individual’s initial return to Mexico; opportunities for enrollees to secure access to, and communicate with, counsel before and during the interviews and court hearings; improved non-refoulement procedures (which is the practice of not sending asylum seekers back to the country in which they were persecuted); safe and secure shelters, transportation, work permits, healthcare services; and also the provision of COVID-19 vaccinations. Migrant Protection Protocols restarted in El Paso’s port of entry on December 6, 2021, but it is expected to be expanded to every other port of entry near the southern border until the court injunction is lifted and MPP is terminated.