On Friday, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Department of Homeland Security to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith.” Under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or the Remain in Mexico program, the U.S. government forcibly returned people to Mexico while they ask for asylum in the U.S. For the two years in which it was in place, the program deprived tens of thousands of people the opportunity to seek asylum and forced them into incredibly dangerous situations.
Throughout the duration of the program, there were over 1,500 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, and other violent assaults faced by asylum-seekers subject to the policy in Mexico. In multiple trips to the Mexico-U.S. border, Amnesty International USA heard first-hand stories of pregnant women, LGBTI people, children, and people with disabilities suffering abuses while they waited in Mexico. Remain in Mexico was also a crisis of due process, as fewer than 5% of asylum-seekers were able to access legal representation, even though their proceedings are often times a matter of life or death.
In January, Amnesty International USA applauded the Biden Administration’s decision to unwind the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Now, Amnesty International USA strongly urges the Biden Administration to take swift action to prevent this court order from going into effect this Friday.
The situation for people seeking safety in the United States is dire. With the Biden Administration’s recent extension of the Title 42 order blocking the entry of people seeking asylum at our borders and now the forthcoming reinstatement of the Remain in Mexico Program, the United States is all but abandoning its obligations under international and domestic law to uphold the right to seek asylum. Amnesty International USA calls upon the Biden Administration to immediately and forcefully take action to ensure protection for people seeking safety at our borders.