Human Rights First and Sister NGOs File Amicus Brief Asking for Emergency Stay of Attempts to Reinstate MPP

WASHINGTON — Human Rights First, the Southern Poverty Law Center, American Immigration Council, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies filed an amicus curiae — a friend of the court — brief at the U.S. Supreme Court asking for an emergency stay of a lower court decision reinstating the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (“MPP”) or “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Through this policy, the Trump administration forced thousands of asylum seekers and migrants to wait in danger in Mexico for U.S. immigration court hearings. In February, the Biden administration started processing into the U.S. asylum seekers subject to the policy and terminated MPP in June. However, Attorney Generals from Texas and Missouri sued to force the federal government to reinstate MPP.

The amicus brief, in the case Texas et al. v. Biden, emphasizes the inherent dangers and due process violations of MPP for migrants as well as errors of the lower court’s refusal to grant an emergency stay.

Relying exclusively on facts already in the record, the brief describes how MPP subjected asylum seekers to alarming conditions of violence in Mexico. This violence, along with systemic failures of notice and other procedural problems, resulted in many asylum seekers in MPP being ordered removed in their absence from court. Some were unable to reach immigration courts because they were kidnapped on the way there; others never received notice of their hearings because their lack of shelter in Mexico also meant they had no address there where they could receive mail.

“MPP was a violation of domestic law and of the treaty obligations of the United States to protect refugees. It deliberately subjected asylum seekers to grotesque levels of violence and suffering in Mexico,” said Anwen Hughes, Director of Legal Strategy, Refugee Programs. “We have been able to document over 1,500 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, kidnapping, and other violent assaults against asylum seekers returned to Mexico under MPP.  Many of these people were targeted for attacks because they were migrants.  DHS had this information before when it correctly decided to terminate this shameful policy. Quite aside from the other legal flaws in the district court’s and the 5th Circuit’s decisions, pointed out in the Solicitor General’s stay application, a denial of a stay at this level would expose terrible harm to more asylum seekers who seek safety in the United States and fair adjudication of their claims.”

Human Rights First also weighed in as amicus at a prior stage in this case at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit earlier this week.

Since MPP’s inception in January 2019, Human Rights First has tracked and documented violence against asylum seekers returned to Mexico under MPP through a series of reports and the “Delivered to Danger” initiative with other immigrant and human rights organizations. Human Rights First attorneys representing people returned under MPP—including securing the first grant of asylum under the program—have seen the major barriers to effective representation erected by the policy for the few asylum seekers in MPP who manage to find lawyers.


Published on August 23, 2021


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