Joe Biden’s administration will announce on Thursday that it is to restart Donald Trump’s controversial Remain in Mexico asylum policy, according to a report.
Under Biden’s new policy – first reported by Axios on November 24; confirmed by The Washington Post on Wednesday, with the Post saying the news would be officially announced on Thursday – the migrants will once again be sent back to Mexico.
The major difference is that they will be offered a COVID vaccination, but they cannot be forced to accept it. Biden’s policy is likely to anger progressive members of his party – including the so-called ‘Squad’ of four outspoken female representatives, but it could play well with more centrist Democrats who have concerns about uncontrolled immigration into the US.
Officials in the United States are planning to initially use the MPP program primarily for single adult asylum seekers, who account for the majority of illegal border crossings, according to one official who spoke to The Washington Post.
Joe Biden, seen on December 1, will announce the resumption of the Remain in Mexico policy on Thursday, according to The Washington Post
Mexico is willing to accept asylum seekers from Spanish-speaking countries, as with the previous version of the program, the person said. Whether Mexico would accept Haitians – who have surged in numbers in recent months, as the country implodes – was still being debated.
Biden, on taking the White House, immediately ended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), as the policy is formally known.
His predecessor had implemented the scheme in January 2019, and it faced multiple legal challenges from critics who said that turning asylum seekers away breached international law.
Yet supporters of the policy argued that it was a sensible way to deal with those waiting to have their cases heard in overwhelmed U.S. immigration courts, and admitted that it also served as a deterrent to illegal crossings.
When Biden assumed office, migrant numbers surged, with many openly stating that they’d been emboldened to attempt to enter the U.S. illegally because they felt the new president would be more sympathetic than Trump.
Under Donald Trump, from January 2019 to January 2020 approximately 60,000 migrants were forced to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases were heard
The number of migrants encountered by Border Patrol along the Mexican border rose to their highest recorded level in fiscal 2021, according to data analyzed last month by Pew.
The Border Patrol reported 1,659,206 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border last fiscal year, narrowly exceeding the prior highs of 1,643,679 in 2000 and 1,615,844 in 1986.
Migrants are seen attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico at the border on October 10
A family is seen in San Luis, Arizona, on October 10 having just crossed the border
Biden is now in the bizarre situation of reintroducing a plan despite his own administration still fighting it in the courts.
In August, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, sitting in Amarillo, Texas, ruled that the Biden administration violated federal law by ending the Remain in Mexico policy.
The Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court, and Justice Alito ruled in Biden’s favor and allowed the administration to temporarily stop Remain in Mexico.
Four days later, on August 24, the Supreme Court declared that Kacsmaryk’s ruling stood, and Biden must reinstate Remain in Mexico.
Biden is seen on November 18 meeting Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president
Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, in October spoke of his concerns about the program.
‘MPP had endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and did not address the root causes of irregular migration,’ he said.
‘MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, it fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that individuals deserve under the law.’
Mexico has expressed concern about the implementation of the program, releasing a statement last week outlining several ‘humanitarian concerns,’ including the living conditions of asylum seekers, and their access to legal representation and medical care.
The Trump administration used the MPP program to return more than 60,000 asylum seekers across the border to Mexico.
Human Rights First, a New York-based nonprofit organization, recorded at least 1,544 ‘violent attacks’ against migrants returned to Mexico under the program.