An Important Step Forward in Undoing MPP

WASHINGTON — Today, at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego, asylum seekers will finally begin to receive the justice and due process they have been denied for two years. 

A small group of asylum seekers affected by the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, will be the first people allowed to enter the United States to wait in safety for their asylum cases to be heard. Previously, under the MPP — often called the “Remain in Mexico” policy — the U.S. government required those seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to stay in Mexico while their cases were processed by the U.S. immigration system. Tens of thousands of people “remain in Mexico” today.

The Trump administration implemented MPP in January 2019, creating a humanitarian disaster at our doorstep. Asylum seekers have been waiting in areas of Mexico so dangerous they have the same State Department travel advisory level as Syria and North Korea. More than 1,000 publicly reported instances of murder, kidnapping, rape, and other violent crimes against asylum seekers in Mexico have been reported. 

“We are excited that asylum seekers who have been waiting in dangerous conditions in Mexico for months — or even years — will finally be able to pursue their cases from within the U.S., where they can have access to legal representation and due process,” said Sue Kenney-Pfalzer, HIAS’ director of the Border and Asylum Network. “Although currently the administration’s plan only applies to some people who were affected by the horrible policies of the last administration, it’s a good start and we look forward to future phases.”

HIAS is encouraged that many elements of the Biden administration’s plan mirror recommendations made in our “Roadmap to Recovery” report on ending MPP, including prioritizing vulnerable asylum seekers and processing family units together. 

HIAS is working closely with UNHCR to help those in MPP gain entry to the U.S. We are providing extensive community education to asylum seekers waiting in Mexico, including “Know Your Rights” presentations and remote meetings with experienced asylum attorneys.

Lives are in danger every day MPP remains in force. We urge the Biden administration to act quickly to provide guidance to those affected by MPP, and to fully unwind MPP and other programs that have denied people their legal right to seek asylum in the United States.


HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 16 countries. We advocate for the rights of all forcibly displaced people to rebuild their lives and seek to create a world in which they find safety, opportunity, and welcome.

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