Restart, Expansion of Inhumane ‘Remain in Mexico’ a Critical Misstep for U.S. Immigration

December 2, 2021

Washington, D.C.—CWS today decried the Biden administration’s reinstatement and expansion of the inhumane “Migrant Protection Protocols.” Known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the program forces people seeking asylum to await their U.S. court dates in dangerous conditions in northern Mexico. Under the program thousands have experienced violence and persecution upon their return to Mexico, either from the very danger they initially fled or from new threats along the border. In tandem with the administration’s continuation of Title 42 expulsions—which has been used to expel 8,000 Haitians since September—the U.S. immigration system is in turmoil. CWS calls on President Biden to immediately end these policies, fully restore asylum and welcome people with dignity.

“The restart and expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols is unconscionable. To say that this decision will cost lives is not exaggeration, but near fact. Thousands have already been victimized by this cruel and inhumane program, forced to exist in perilous circumstances or returned to the very danger they fled in the first place,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at CWS. “With both Title 42 and MPP in place, mothers, fathers and their children will be put at risk in Mexico, and thousands of Haitians will be expelled back to Haiti, despite widespread unrest and crisis in that country. The politics of exclusion and marginalization that this ill-conceived program was created under should not dictate a U.S. immigration policy. The Biden administration must reconsider immediately and instead, fully restore asylum.”

“This decision will be detrimental to both those families suffering in Mexico and their loved ones in the United States. I recently travelled to our programs on the border—in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona—and crossed to Mexico to visit make-shift displacement camps in Juarez. I was taken aback at the stark contrast from those shelters in the United States, it underscored the sheer level of desperation families are facing. Many who fled their homes are living elbow-to-elbow in open, converted parking lots, tiny converted facilities, or sleeping on make-shift bedding. The living conditions are very tough to witness and contain many young families and children,” said Michael McCusker, Senior Director for Migrant and Emergency Services at CWS. “Not since my days working in ‘failed states’ like South Sudan, DRC or Yemen have I seen such deplorable living environments. Without a doubt, this policy will further exacerbate desperate circumstances for families fleeing for their own safety.  MPP will put families’ livelihoods, already at a tipping point, into complete disarray.  Access to basic services, health, livelihoods and protection was minimal or absent, at best, throughout this period and will get worse with activation of this renewed policy”

In January 2019, the Trump administration created the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Upon taking office in January 2021, President Biden terminated the program, and following court intervention, initiated its reinstatement.

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