The Biden administration
formally ended the Trump administration
's "Remain in Mexico
" program, which had forced tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers
to wait in Mexico, often in dangerous conditions, for their claims to be processed.
The program, also known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), was terminated by Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
in a memo on Tuesday, after the Biden administration paused it earlier this year for a review.
According to Mayorkas' memo, the Biden administration suspended new asylum-seeker enrollments in the program in January and has since processed over 11,000 people
who were previously enrolled in the United States
Since the Trump administration issued the policy in January 2019, approximately 68,000 asylum-seekers have been forced to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court cases, many of whom have been subjected to violence, sexual assault
, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes.
“This is a huge victory; the forced return policy was cruel, depraved, and illegal, and we are glad it has finally been repealed,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Judy Rabinovitz in a statement.
Rabinovitz, who led the ACLU
team that sued the Trump administration over the policy, urged the Biden administration to ensure that "everyone who has been subjected to this policy can now pursue their asylum cases in the United States, in safety and without additional trauma or delay."
DHS Secretary Mayorkas formally ends the Trump administration's Remain-in-Mexico policy, citing concerns about whether "lack of stable access to housing
, income, and safety" forced asylum seekers in Mexico to abandon "potentially meritorious protection claims." pic.twitter.com/Jrwzc4srfk — Camilo Montoya-Galvez (@camiloreports) June 1, 2021
Mayorkas wrote in the DHS memo that after Biden directed him to review the program in February, he considered whether it processed asylum-seekers "in a safe and orderly manner consistent with the Nation's highest values." The DHS secretary also noted that some of those forced to remain in Mexico faced a "lack of stable access to housing, income, and safety."
According to a 2019 report from Doctors Without Borders, the Trump administration's policy has forced people to stay "in violent areas of Mexico and [putting] them in extreme danger." Of the nearly 400 patients the organization treated in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo in the first five months of that year, more than 45% had experienced at least one episode of violence as they waited to cross into the United States, including
A separate Human Rights Watch
report detailed how, after being sent to the Mexican city under the policy, Central American migrants
reported sexual assault, homelessness
, kidnapping, and other violence in Ciudad Juárez.
“We applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to formally end the abhorrent ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy,” said Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), chairs of the House
Committee on Homeland Security’s border security subcommittee, in a statement calling the policy “a stain on our nation’s history.”