Human Rights First Calls for Action to Fully End ‘Remain in Mexico’

Following the Department of Homeland Security’s issuance of a memorandum formally ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), Human Rights First called on the Biden administration to urgently take steps to end the policy and bring its victims swiftly to safety, and end other Trump administration policies that endanger families, adults, and children seeking U.S. protection.

“While we welcome the formal announcement to end MPP, the horrors of that Trump administration program will not end until the Biden administration brings to safety those who remain stranded in danger,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “The administration should move ahead to the next phase of its MPP wind-down without further delay and bring into safety asylum seekers who were denied protection or ordered removed under this highly flawed program. The administration must also stop blocking and expelling asylum seekers under the guise of public health, delivering them to the very same dangers and harms faced by asylum seekers subjected to MPP.”

On May 18, 2021, Human Rights First and more than 50 faith-based, humanitarian, legal services, immigration, human rights organizations and law school clinics sent recommendations to the Biden administration detailing additional steps to end MPP.

The recommendations include:

  • Moving ahead with the next phase of the “MPP” wind-down;
  • Bringing to safety all individuals subjected to MPP, including those denied asylum in hearings plagued by due process violations or ordered removed in absentia for missing hearings due to the terrible dangers they faced in Mexico;
  • Increasing MPP processing sites and ensure safe, accessible transportation for those processed out of MPP;
  • Addressing continued registration issues and improving coordination with bi-national humanitarian and legal service providers;
  • Providing the necessary support for border communities welcoming asylum seekers.

Human Rights First also urged DHS not to turn away asylum seekers subjected to MPP who are still stranded in danger in Mexico and then cross into safety between ports of entry.

Human Rights First has monitored and reported on the horrors of MPP from its very first days, issuing a series of reports documenting its impact on asylum seekers – including reports published in February 2019August 2019October 2019December 2019May 2020, and December 2020. During the two years that the Trump administration forcibly returned people to danger under MPP, Human Rights First tracked at least 1,544 public reports of violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants subjected to MPP, including kidnapping, rape, and murder. Human Rights First represented asylum seekers subjected to MPP and Title 42 and, in the Supreme Court case challenging MPP, submitted an amicus brief, along with the National Immigration Law Center and Sidley Austin LLP, and more than 100 nongovernmental organizations and law school clinics. Attacks against those in MPP have continued even as the Biden administration has taken steps to wind it down. Last month, a Cuban asylum seeker was shot to death in Ciudad Juárez after a forced returned to Mexico under MPP.

Though it has officially ended the “Remain in Mexico” program, the Biden administration continues to use another cruel Trump administration policy to turn away asylum seekers to the very same dangers in Mexico. The policy, often referred to as “Title 42” due to its use of public health authority to override refugee law, has further endangered asylum seekers. Human Rights First has tracked at least 492 attacks and kidnappings suffered by asylum seekers and migrants expelled or left stranded in Mexico since President Biden took office in January 2021. We urge the Biden administration to stop expelling and blocking asylum seekers under Title 42 and instead uphold U.S. refugee law by safely processing individuals seeking protection into the United States.

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