Several reports have said that the Biden administration has looked to implementing a “lite,” “gentler” of the policy. But human and immigrant rights advocates say there’s just no humane way to reimplement Remain in Mexico, because its design was to be both cruel and unlawfully block vulnerable people from their U.S. and international asylum rights. No version of Remain in Mexico, Human Rights First said in a statement, “can ever be legal, safe, or humane.”
Returning asylum-seekers to dangerous border regions of Mexico under Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) “is dangerous and inhumane, if not a death sentence,” the organization said. “During the two years that the Trump administration implemented MPP, Human Rights First tracked at least 1,544 publicly reported cases of violent attacks against people returned to Mexico under the program and forced to wait in danger for their U.S. immigration court proceedings.”
The organization has since tracked thousands more violent incidents against asylum-seekers and other migrants deported since January alone, a figure also noted by legislators in a letter led by El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez. They told the Biden administration that “[i]t is abundantly clear that the United States cannot safely reinstate MPP,” and that it “can and should re-terminate MPP with a fuller explanation in order to address any perceived procedural defect of the termination.”
“We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision denying the Biden administration’s request for an emergency stay in Biden v. Texas, a decision from the Texas district court forcing the government to reimplement this disgraceful policy,” legislators said. “MPP does not represent our values as a country and should be permanently discarded along with the many other unlawful Trump administration policies designed to punish and deter refugees from seeking safety. The court orders leave ample room for your administration to ensure MPP never again puts another person in harm’s way.”
Human Rights First said in its report that it has tracked at least 6,356 acts of violence against people deported since January. Researchers said that attacks against deported people have included “a Honduran woman violently beaten with a machete in front of her 11-year-old son,” “a Guatemalan man tortured by a cartel and turned away by [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] CBP at the Laredo port of entry despite being covered in blood,” and “a transgender woman beaten and raped by gang members after CBP expelled her to Reynosa.”
“The decisions suggest that the potential perceived problem with your administration’s termination of MPP was that it did not say enough to demonstrate that it had sufficiently weighed the potential consequences of its decision to terminate,” they continued. “The court did not endorse the states’ claims that the government is actually required to return people to Mexico under the immigration statutes. As amicus briefs explained, those claims were egregiously wrong. Thus, we believe your administration can and should re-terminate MPP with a fuller explanation in order to address any perceived procedural defect of the termination.”
Legislators said in their letter to the Biden administration that “[i]t makes a mockery of the U.S. asylum system to resurrect this policy … We urge you to act quickly and re-terminate this policy, and to decline to reimplement any iteration of the dangerous policy.” As CBS News notes, the Biden administration must need Mexico’s cooperation in order to reimplement the policy. However, “[r]epresentatives for the Mexican government did not respond to questions about the status of talks with the U.S.,” the report said.
One day following the Supreme Court’s unsigned order allowing Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s “dead wrong” ruling to go forward, Sister Norma Pimentel of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley told Border Report that decision was “not right,” saying that “just to think that this is going to be coming back is not OK.” She was among the advocates who welcomed the first asylum-seekers allowed to enter the U.S. after the Biden administration began winding down the program earlier this year. Now she may have to again witness vulnerable people being sent back to danger.
“Because my experience from MPP, all I was saw was a lot of human suffering on the other side of the border,” she continued in the report. “People were exposed to so much suffering. It’s not fair. It’s not correct. It’s not morally correct. And so I’m concerned for families. I’m concerned for people who will be sent back to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings as it was previously. It is wrong.” She told Border Report that “[w]e must have a more humane, more respectful policy to human life than MPP.”