By Larisa Karr
The Biden administration announced it is reinstating the “Remain in Mexico” program initially started under the Trump administration as of Dec. 6. Formally known as the “Migrant Protection Patrols,” or MPP, the program makes asylum seekers at the United States southern border return to Mexico to wait for immigration court hearings.
With thousands of Haitians arriving in the U.S., the program is likely to affect them the most when it begins to transfer asylum seekers to Mexico from seven ports of entry in the U.S.
Asylum seekers will have to wait in Mexico for up to six months.
Critics immediately spoke out against the new policy.
Religious leaders nationwide, for one, spoke out against the expansion of the program the day it was announced.
“We are appalled that President Biden has not only restarted MPP but is expanding it to include Haitian nationals,” said Ronnate Asirwatham of the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “MPP and policies such as Title 42 can never be just and humane.”
The reimplementation of the program appears to be an about-face for Biden, who tweeted last year that Trump’s policy was inhumane and that his administration would end it.
In a year that has seen tens of thousands of Haitians deported from the U.S., reinstating MPP is another way the Biden administration is maintaining hardline Trump policies on immigration, wrote Nicole Narea for Vox.
Under Title 42, a clause of the 1944 Public Health Services Law, Trump authorized the deportations of asylum seekers, saying it was justified through the health risk posed by COVID-19.
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Oct. 29 that MPP would be terminated. However, due to a court order requiring that the Biden administration “reimplement MPP in good faith,” they said it will remain until the injunction is removed.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also spoken out about the reinstatement of MPP.
“UNHCR was never involved in implementing MPP and will not be supporting the reinstated policy,” said Matthew Reynolds, the UNHCR Representative for the United States and the Caribbean.
An October report released by Human Rights First after the reinstatement of MPP was announced detailed the plight of Haitian asylum seekers at the hands of the Title 42 policy, showing how families blocked from asylum protections were subject to kidnappings and other crimes.
“There is no way to use MPP that does not endanger lives and deliver people to harm,” said the report.
The nonpartisan organization documented over 1,500 reported instances of rape, kidnapping, torture and human trafficking that were committed against those sent back under MPP so far.