MPP’s Return Will Make Bad Border Situation Worse

By Sharon Samber,


HIAS Policy Counsel Andrew Geibel discusses the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border near the bridge connecting El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez. October 14, 2021.

Since it was implemented, the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) created a humanitarian disaster on the U.S.-Mexico border. With its pending return, HIAS is on the ground assessing the current situation and also trying to get the message to the Biden administration that restarting MPP, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” should not happen.

MPP was created in 2019 and used by the previous administration to force most asylum seekers who presented themselves at the southern border to wait for their asylum hearings in Mexico, rather than in the United States. Tens of thousands of people were affected by the policy, and thousands continue to have their access to protection in the U.S. blocked.

“There is no safe way to restart the Remain in Mexico program. Period,” according to Andrew Geibel, HIAS’ policy counsel, who visited Ciudad Juarez last week. “The program will never be humane or lawful.”
Geibel was in Mexico to meet with local organizations and partners to hear their accounts of how asylum seekers are faring with the current shutdown of asylum. On his trip Geibel saw that the safety of the areas of Mexico where people would be expected to wait hasn’t improved, and any people placed into the program may again be subject to kidnappings and other violence. 

MPP was disbanded in June but in August the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the administration to reinstate the program. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it is trying to terminate the program once again, but it also has to prove it is restarting the program in good faith. 

Geibel reiterated that DHS must do everything in its power to end the program, including immediately issuing a new memo that would clearly lay out how the Remain in Mexico program was a human rights catastrophe.

In the meantime Geibel says the situation has turned more desperate for asylum seekers and some have even attempted to climb over the border wall, and in so doing, injured themselves severely.

“People are just trying anything,” he said. “If people don’t have options, they are going to break the law.”

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