CGRS Denounces Court Ruling on Revival of Deadly Remain in Mexico Policy

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Last night the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding a lower court injunction that ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or “Remain in Mexico” program. Introduced by the Trump administration in 2019, MPP is a dangerous and unlawful policy that forces people seeking asylum to await their U.S. court dates in perilous conditions in Mexico. The Fifth Circuit’s ruling is wrong on the law and wrong on the facts, and it will lead to further suffering and loss of life at our nation’s doorstep. The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) implores the Biden administration to pursue every avenue available to defend its decision to terminate MPP.

MPP created an ecosystem of violence and chaos at the border, stranding tens of thousands of vulnerable people in shelters and squalid, makeshift camps where they routinely fell prey to cartels that target migrants. Trapped in precarious circumstances and isolated from vital legal services, people placed in MPP had little hope of mounting a successful asylum case. While the Department of Homeland Security formally terminated the program in June, the Biden administration resumed enrollments in MPP last week under the lower court’s order.

The administration has promised that its version of the program will include safeguards to protect asylum seekers from harm. Yet in its first week of implementation, human rights investigators have already reported cases of vulnerable individuals being placed in MPP 2.0 despite expressing fear of return to Mexico. Overburdened services providers in Mexico are unequipped to support people enrolled in the program, and the mayor of Tijuana has stated her city is wholly unprepared for the reimplementation of MPP.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision twists the facts and undermines rule of law,” CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey said today. “MPP was a humanitarian catastrophe designed to deprive asylum seekers of their rights and subject them to grievous harm in Mexico. The program resulted in untold violence and made a mockery of our country’s laws and treaty commitments. We urge the Biden administration to do everything in its power to end MPP for good and reinstate a safe and fair asylum process at the border. Lives depend on it.”

Under the Trump administration CGRS brought multiple lawsuits challenging the legality of MPP and won. Multiple federal courts found the policy to violate our domestic and international legal obligations to people fleeing persecution.