Despite Biden’s efforts to wind down MPP, 4,668 migrants are being categorically left out–those who went through the entire asylum process and lost their immigration case. Some advocates are questioning whether those asylum applicants had been given a fair hearing as immigration courts were shut down because of COVID-19, and virtual hearings presented difficult challenges, such as inconsistent or a lack of technological access. While the government is claiming that these applicants have already been given due process, lawyers on the ground say otherwise, claiming living conditions and the pandemic made it practically impossible to effectively engage in your own defense.
The Biden administration is scaling up its dismantlement of MPP, allowing those asylum seekers who had had their cases closed or removed in absentia to come to the U.S. to pursue their original asylum claims. Since February, around 12,000 migrants have been able to enter the U.S. with pending MPP cases, and this change in policy should greatly scale up the number of migrants allowed to pursue their asylum claims from within the U.S. Still, for many asylum seekers, this policy change comes far too late, many migrants under MPP being victims of rape, kidnapping, and assault. The Biden administration has been criticized for its slowness in dismantling MPP and restoring proper access to asylum seekers.
TRAC of Syracuse University released new data revealing a significant slow down in asylum cases being transferred out of MPP and over to U.S. immigration courts. During the month of May, only 1,988 cases were transferred out of MPP, which is down 55% from the 4,476 cases transferred out the previous month. It seems it is becoming more and more difficult to locate and identify the migrants living in border towns who should be allowed entry into the U.S.
The U.S. formally terminates the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico”, or MPP, policy. The program had been on a ‘pause’ since near the beginning of Biden’s presidency, and has now been formally put to rest because of its inability to “adequately or sustainably enhance border management,” according to a DHS memo. Title 42 still remains in place.
McAllen and Laredo, Texas will begin receiving Remain in Mexico enrollees this week. They will be tested for Covid in Mexico before crossing the border.
The infamous tent camp in Matamoros where Remain in Mexico enrollees awaited entry to the US has been dismantled. No more migrants are being registered to the camp, and those left have been relocated, according to DHS.
15,000 of the 25,000 asylum seekers eligible to enter the United States as the Biden administration rolls back the Remain in Mexico program are already in line, according to the UN.
A group of 27 asylum seekers from the Matamoros refugee camp entered the United States on Thursday, the first from the camp to be admitted amid the beginning of the end of Remain in Mexico.
UN agencies began processing individuals and families enrolled in the Remain in Mexico program from the Matamoros migrant camp for entry to the United States. Both the US and Mexican governments have asked the UN to aid in the process, and the International Organization for Migration is administering Covid tests to migrants.
Some Remain in Mexico enrollees are being allowed into the United States as of Friday, February 19, first at the San Diego port of entry and later through Brownsville and El Paso as well. Processing will be slow at first, with only a few hundred entering per day.
A Honduran father and son were among the first Remain in Mexico enrollees to be admitted into the U.S. under the Biden administration. While in Mexico, the father was kidnapped, beaten, and held for ransom.
Although the Mexican government promised to provide upwards of 3,500 jobs for migrants in the Remain in Mexico program, according to the Mexican Secretary of Labor only 64 were actually employed due partially to the fact that many migrants were never issued work permits.
The Biden administration will soon begin admitting migrants enrolled in the Remain in Mexico program. The plan starts slowly at three ports of entry, targets those who still have active cases in US immigration courts, and will be based on the date of enrollment in the program, with exceptions made for especially vulnerable migrants.
The Supreme Court granted requests from the Biden administration to remove arguments in two cases (Mayorkas v. Innovation Law Lab and Biden v. Sierra Club) that questioned the legality of the “Remain in Mexico” program and Donald Trump’s national emergency border wall-building declaration. The conservative court might have upheld Trump’s policies had he remained in office, but will now most likely dismiss the cases.
President Biden released executive orders creating a task force on family separation and calling for a review, with intent to end, “safe third-country” agreements, Title 42, the Remain in Mexico program, and other Trump policies restricting migration. The administration has not yet committed to ending these policies. One order calls for a new policy framework to address migration’s root causes in Central America.
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement announcing a suspension of new enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols or “Remain in Mexico” Program. It directs migrants currently subject to “Remain in Mexico” to stay put in Mexico for the time being.
Even if a “wave” of migration happens in early 2021, the new Biden administration can handle it with minimal drama while phasing out the Trump administration’s harsh anti-asylum policies.
A policy-by-policy overview of what it would take for the Biden administration to undo the Trump administration’s hardline border and migration policies.
Migrants in limbo have hope for change if Donald Trump loses the election, but walking back many of the Trump administration’s anti-asylum policies will be difficult.