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Biden administration terminates 'Remain in Mexico' policy again

Protest against MPP in Brownsville
Demonstrators hold up a banner to protest against MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols), outside of U.S. Customs and Border Protection building in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

In a memorandum Friday, Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the termination of a Trump-era immigration program, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — also known as “Remain in Mexico.”

The policy forced those seeking asylum at the border to stay in Mexico while their claims were processed, which forced people to wait along the border in dangerous conditions.

“It left thousands of people in squalor and led to thousands of people being the victims of kidnapping and violence in Mexico,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the American Immigration Council.

In the memo, Mayorkas said the program does not address the root causes of illegal immigration and doesn’t offer humanitarian protection.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

This isn’t the Biden administration’s first attempt at canceling the program. In June, Mayorkas issued a memo ending MPP but a
Texas District Court
granted an injunction on the administration's decision and ordered the administration reinstate the policy because it did not properly justify ending it. The Supreme Court later
upheld that decision
The new termination cannot go into action until a judge lifts the injunction.

“This new memorandum goes in detail into all of the problems caused by MPP from the extraordinary violence faced by migrants in the program, to the internal governmental difficulties in implementing a program that required tens of thousands of people to return to court through ports of entry every month,” Reichlin-Melnick said.

Although the Biden administration appealed the judge’s decision, it is still complying with court orders by negotiating a deal with Mexico to handle the influx of migrants.

Former President Donald Trump enacted the program to curb illegal immigration. In the DHS memo, Mayorkas recognizes that “MPP likely contributed to reduced migratory flows,” but did so at a great humanitarian expense.

Rather than reinstate the program, the Biden administration says it is reforming immigration policies to streamline the process and address the reasons behind people leaving their home countries.

“If our country stands for anything, it's that people should have a fair day in court and MPP took away that right,” Reichlin-Melnick said.

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Carolina Cuellar reports for Texas Public Radio from the city of McAllen where she covers business and border issues. Her position is made possible by Report For America — a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.