Under the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy, (Known officially as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program) certain asylum-seekers were sent back to Mexico to wait for their cases to be heard by the U.S. immigration court system.
Joe Biden abandoned the scheme immediately on taking office but has since struggled to cope with the numbers of migrants crossing from Mexico. Axios reports that President Biden was intending to restart the program, and offer those sent back a COVID vaccination at the same time.
On Wednesday night The Washington Post confirmed that the news was to be formally announced on Thursday.
The major difference with Trump and Biden is that they offer asylum seekers a COVID vaccination, but they cannot be forced to accept it. Biden’s policy is likely to really anger progressive members of his party – including the ‘Squad’ of four outspoken female representatives, but it could play well with more centrist Democrats who have concerns about uncontrolled immigration into the US.
Officials in the United States are planning to initially use the MPP program primarily for single adult asylum seekers, who account for the majority of illegal border crossings, according to one official who spoke to The Washington Post.
When Biden assumed office, migrant numbers surged, with many openly stating that they’d been emboldened to attempt to enter the U.S. illegally because they felt the new president would be more sympathetic than Trump.
The number of migrants encountered by Border Patrol along the Mexican border rose to their highest recorded level in fiscal 2021, according to data analyzed last month by Pew.
The Border Patrol reported 1,659,206 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border last fiscal year, narrowly exceeding the prior highs of 1,643,679 in 2000 and 1,615,844 in 1986.
President Biden is now in the bizarre situation of reintroducing a plan despite his own administration still fighting it in the courts.
In August, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, sitting in Amarillo, Texas, ruled that the Biden administration violated federal law by ending the Remain in Mexico policy.
The Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court, and Justice Alito ruled in Biden’s favor and allowed the administration to temporarily stop Remain in Mexico.
Four days later, on August 24, the Supreme Court declared that Kacsmaryk’s ruling stood, and Biden must reinstate Remain in Mexico.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, in October spoke of his concerns about the program.
‘MPP had endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and did not address the root causes of irregular migration,’ he said.
‘MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, it fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that individuals deserve under the law.’
Mexico has expressed concern about the implementation of the program, releasing a statement last week outlining several ‘humanitarian concerns,’ including the living conditions of asylum seekers, and their access to legal representation and medical care.
The Trump administration used the MPP program to return more than 60,000 asylum seekers across the border to Mexico.
Human Rights First, a New York-based nonprofit organization, recorded at least 1,544 ‘violent attacks’ against migrants returned to Mexico under the program.