Fully End the Migrant Protection Protocols: Ensure Safety for All Subjected to Horrific Policy
As the Biden administration winds down the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), it has not yet included in this process asylum-seeking families and adults whose cases were unfairly denied, terminated, or otherwise closed under the illegal MPP policy, including many who missed hearings because they were kidnapped at the time. In February 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that individuals who do not have “active” MPP cases should “await further instructions,” referring to the processing of individuals with “active” MPP cases as “the first phase of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border.”
To date, no such instructions have been provided, and many people forced to return to Mexico under MPP remain stranded there facing grave dangers. Many asylum seekers were denied a fair opportunity to request refugee protection in the United States in MPP hearings plagued by due process violations, some of which were conducted under illegal Trump administration rules, including the now enjoined third-country transit asylum ban. Many adults who remain stranded in Mexico are separated from children who were sent alone for their safety to the United States. Other families face potential separation when family members with “active” MPP cases are transited to safety while other family members with “inactive” MPP cases are left behind.
The Biden administration should quickly bring to safety all families and adults subjected to MPP – including those whose cases were unfairly denied, terminated, or otherwise closed – releasing them on parole to stay with family or community members in the United States as their immigration cases proceed. As part of the wind down of MPP, DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) should take steps to vacate all in absentia MPP removal orders. For people subjected to MPP who want to reopen their cases, DHS should ensure that asylum seekers have a fair opportunity to seek U.S. refugee protection by asking the immigration courts to reopen denied MPP cases and issuing new notices to appear for terminated and other closed MPP cases, as requested. The horrors of MPP will continue so long as individuals and families continue to be forced to wait in danger in Mexico, including those whose cases were wrongfully denied.