Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has announced the “Termination of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP),” better known as the “Remain-in-Mexico” asylum policy, even though a court had ordered the Biden administration to restore it.
Starting in 2019 during the Trump administration, the policy forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their claims were heard in the U.S. immigration court.
In a memorandum on Friday, Oct. 29, Mayorkas said, “I am hereby terminating MPP.”
Mayorkas admitted in the memo that MPP likely reduced unauthorized migration to the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration but claimed that the policy imposed “substantial and unjustifiable human costs” on the migrants waiting in Mexico, which demonstrates a need to end the program.
“The benefits of MPP are far outweighed by the costs of continuing to use the program on a programmatic basis, in whatever form,” Mayorkas said, CNBC citing the four-page memo reported.
“MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, but it also fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that all persons deserve,” he said.
This is the second attempt Biden’s Homeland Security secretary has made to end the Trump-era border policy.
It comes after a federal judge in Texas on Aug. 13 ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy until it is “lawfully rescinded,” because the program was incorrectly suspended.
In his memo on Friday, Mayorkas promoted twin messaging, saying that his department is working in good faith to restore the policy. Still, he also said the HHS is terminating it.
“The department will continue complying with the Texas injunction requiring good-faith implementation and enforcement of MPP. But the termination of MPP will be implemented as soon as practicable after a final judicial decision to vacate the Texas injunction,” he said.
Mayorkas said he reached a conclusion after reviewing all the information relating to the “Remain in Mexico” program, including court filings, departmental assessments, and media reports.
“I recognize that MPP likely contributed to reduced migratory flows. But it did so by imposing substantial and unjustifiable human costs on the individuals who were exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico. The Biden-Harris Administration, by contrast, is pursuing a series of policies that disincentivize irregular migration while incentivizing safe, orderly, and humane pathways,” he wrote in the memo.
About 70,000 migrants were returned to Mexico under the Trump-era program since 2019, according to the American Immigration Council.
Mayorkas claimed that the Biden administration could decrease migration to the U.S. southern border and protect migrants who qualify for asylum. Policies such as a fast-tracked immigration court program and a proposed rule that would allow asylums officers to “produce timely and fair decision-making” about asylums claims.
“Once fully implemented, these policies will address migratory flows more effectively than MPP, while holding true to our nation’s values,” he said.
Despite his claimed resolutions, the Biden administration has been criticized for failing to stop an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration so far this year.
According to new statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Border Patrol agents arrested a total of 1.7 million illegal immigrants along the southwest border in the fiscal year 2021, breaking all records since the agency was formed in 1925.
An additional 294,352 were stopped after trying to enter at a port of entry without legal papers, bringing the total to almost 2 million for fiscal 2021.