The Biden administration announced this week that it will reintroduce a Trump-era antiimmigration policy to limit asylum seekers from entering the United States.
The policy is known as “Remain in Mexico” and is sometimes referred to as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. The program requires migrants coming from Mexico or Central America to stay on Mexico’s side of the U.S.-Mexico border as they wait for their asylum claims to be processed and for an immigration court date to be arranged.
OurFuture’s Karen Romero criticized the Trump administration in 2019. Article Truthout, saying that it “turn[ed] its back on its legal obligation to protect people fleeing persecution.” The policy was “sending vulnerable people back to some of the world’s most dangerous cities to wait indefinitely,” she added.
As a 2020 candidate, President Joe Biden confronted President Donald Trump over the policy. Biden End of Remain in Mexico, February 2021, shortly after he was inaugurated — but two states sued to reinstate the policy, and a federal judge ruled in August that the policy had ended improperly and had to be restored.
Biden officials have said that the reimplementation of the policy is a consequence of that judge’s ruling. But the administration isn’t just putting the program back in place — they’re also expanding it. The policy will now be applicable to applicants from every country in Western Hemisphere, a vast increase on the number of countries it was originally intended to apply to under the Trump administration.
The Biden administration was condemned by immigration rights advocates for expanding the program. They pointed out that this policy would pose a risk to the lives and safety of thousands of asylum seekers.
“Since its creation, the Remain in Mexico policy has subjected tens of thousands of people to grave danger and violated their fundamental right to asylum in the United States,” Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said in a statement. “The Biden administration’s shameful regression in restarting this unlawful Trump policy flies in the face of its own determination that no number of changes could render this deadly policy more humane or provide the access to the asylum system that the law requires.”
“The Biden administration must stop hiding behind a flawed court order to justify restarting Remain in Mexico,” she added.
Aaron Reichlin–Melnick was also a policy counsel at American Immigration Council and he strongly opposed the program’s resumption.
“The Biden administration’s choice to expand Remain in Mexico to everyone from the Western Hemisphere — including Haitians — makes the program even broader than it ever was under the Trump administration,” Reichlin-Melnick said. “Biden didn’t just bring back Remain in Mexico. He’s made it even worse.”
Mexican officials had to agree to the reimplementation. Officials said that they would support this policy if there were new conditions, including a promise from U.S. officials. no asylum applicant would have to wait longer than six monthsto schedule a court hearing. (Under Trump administration, the timeline wasn’t indefinite.
An official from the Biden administration speaking to The Washington Post about the matter, said the agreements reached with Mexico on restarting the policy “are improvements we agree with. The U.S. will assign 22 immigration judges to oversee the program in order to make the process faster.” The U.S. will also reportedly “lower the bar” for what constitutes a claim of persecution in Mexico for asylum seekers, Axios reported.
This isn’t the first time the Biden administration has been criticized by immigration rights advocates for continuing harmful Trump-era immigration policies. Biden also upheld Title 42 during the coronavirus pandemic, which was used to expel migrants at the U.S.–Mexico border. In fact, the Biden White House has actually outpaced the Trump administration’s use of the statuteIn February and August alone, nearly 700,000 migrants were expelled in the United States.