Trump's Immigration Policies Make a ComebackBy Paloma Duran | Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:01
US and Mexican governments have agreed to reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which began under the administration of former President Donald Trump and forced asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their immigration hearing date in the US.
US Departments of Homeland Security and Justice announced that following the US Federal Court's order to reinstate the MPP and Mexico's acceptance of the initiative, both government entities are working on the final details of the new MPP program, which began on Dec. 6.
In a press release, US Homeland Security said MPP enrollments will take place across the entire US-Mexico border, while returns to Mexico will take place at seven ports: San Diego, Calexico, Nogales, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville.
Roberto Velasco Álvarez, Head of the US Unit at the Mexican Foreign Ministry, said the Mexican government agreed to re-implement the MPP only because the US government made major changes to the program and improved humanitarian conditions for migrants. Among the improvements made is that unaccompanied minors and vulnerable asylum seekers will not be included in the program. In addition, migrants will have better access to a lawyer. Moreover, the program limits immigration procedures to six months. This is a big difference, since during the Trump administration, migrants could wait in Mexico for years.
Despite the program’s improvements, the reinstatement of the Remain in Mexico policy has been widely critized. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, said “this is a disaster waiting to happen. Under Remain in Mexico, families were forced to run a gauntlet of kidnappers just to get to the court door.” In reponse to the critics, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, US Secretary of Homeland Security, said both governments are making significant improvements to have a better program for migrants. However, “there are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix.”
In past decades, asylum seekers had been allowed to wait for their immigration trial in the US. However, in 2019, the Trump administration implemented MPP to "reduce the number of aliens taking advantage of the law from the US and discourage false asylum applications." President Joe Biden halted the MPP policy during his first days in office, a decision celebrated by immigrant advocates as the policy was "cruel, depraved and illegal."
However, on June 13, US Federal District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmarys ordered US authorities to implement and enforce the Remain in Mexico policy. Kacsmarys explained that the decision to formally end the Remain in Mexico policy violated US federal administrative law, as it did not consider its benefits such as the deterrent effect it had on migrants who do not meet the requirements to request asylum. In addition, Kacsmarys said that the Biden administration also violated US immigration law, as there is not enough detaining capacity to receive them.