The Department of Homeland Security said it is ending the “remain in Mexico” policy held over from the Trump administration “in a quick, and orderly, manner” after a district court injunction was lifted that required DHS to reimplement MPP in good faith.
“Individuals are no longer being newly enrolled into MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date. Individuals disenrolled from MPP will continue their removal proceedings in the United States,” DHS said in a statement Monday. “As Secretary Mayorkas has said, MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border.”
The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) were initiated in January 2019 to return to Mexico, while their U.S. removal proceedings are pending, nationals of Western Hemisphere countries other than Mexico who arrive from Mexico by land.
On June 1, 2021, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas determined that the Migrant Protection Protocols should be terminated. On Aug. 13, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas determined in Texas v. Biden that the June 1 memo was not issued in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act and INA and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling.
After another review of the program — which found “extreme violence” against migrants waiting in Mexico, an inadequate non-refoulement screening process, barriers for migrants in accessing counsel and receiving sufficient information about their court hearings, growing backlogs in immigration courts and asylum offices, and other factors — Mayorkas issued another memorandum on Oct. 29 to terminate MPP. DHS also asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.
On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Biden administration and against Texas and Missouri, states that had argued DHS violated immigration law when it rescinded MPP. The case was sent back to district court, and the Supreme Court’s ruling became legally binding Aug. 1. On Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk set aside last year’s ruling requiring the administration to reinstate MPP.
DHS said this week that MPP enrollees “should follow the directions on their court documents and tear sheets to appear for their scheduled court date as required.”
“DHS continues to enforce our nation’s immigration and public health laws, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order as required by court order,” the department continued. “Individuals encountered at the Southwest Border who cannot establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed or expelled.”
“Factual information on this process is available through official U.S. government sources and through international organizations that are working with governments in the region, including the United States. Do not believe smugglers or others claiming to have exclusive information.”
A July DHS report said that from Dec. 6, 2021, to June 30, 2022, a total of 9,653 non-citizens were enrolled in MPP and 5,765 noncitizens were returned to Mexico following initial enrollments.
This includes 2,243 enrollments in May and 2,395 enrollments in June, and 1,459 returns to Mexico in May and 1,382 returns in June.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that DHS had restarted it process to terminate MPP, which she said “was flawed, it was inhumane, and it was ineffective.”
Acting Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration in the Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans Blas Nuñez-Neto told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations on March 2 that Mayorkas believes the “endemic flaws” of MPP include “that it imposed unjustifiable human costs on migrants, subverted the asylum system, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and failed to address the root causes of irregular migration,” and the program is ultimately not fixable.
CBP established dedicated MPP teams made up of Office of Field Operations and Border Patrol personnel who have assisted port and station personnel with questions or concerns about implementing MPP procedures. The DHS Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman was also observing implementation of MPP and reviewing enrollees’ access to legal counsel.