Human Rights First Decries Supreme Court Decision on Cruel, Illegal “Remain in Mexico” Policy

WASHINGTON — Last night the Supreme Court denied the government’s request for an emergency stay in Biden v. Texas, failing to block the Texas district court injunction forcing the government to reimplement the deadly Remain in Mexico policy (absurdly dubbed “Migrant Protection Protocols,” or “MPP,” by the Trump administration that created the policy). The decision came just hours after Human Rights First released a report documenting more than 6,000 kidnappings and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers blocked from U.S. protection in Mexico and/or expelled to Mexico since the Biden administration took office.

“The Biden administration was right to end Remain in Mexico, a policy that deliberately subjected asylum seekers and migrants to inhumane conditions and deplorable levels of violence in Mexico. It was and remains a clear violation of our domestic laws and U.S. treaty obligations towards refugees,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director, refugee protection. “Attempts to make MPP ‘better’ would be doomed to fail given the policy’s illegality and the pervasive violence against asylum seekers in Mexico, both by cartels with extensive territorial control and Mexican authorities who frequently collaborate with criminal groups to kidnap, attack, and extort asylum seekers. Whether through MPP, Title 42, or a revised version of the inherently flawed MPP, turning people seeking refuge back to danger is illegal and inhumane.”

While the policy was in effect under the Trump administration from January 2019 until early 2021, Human Rights First tracked over 1,500 public reports of rape, kidnapping, torture, trafficking, and other crimes carried out against asylum seekers and migrants sent back to Mexico. Human Rights First monitored the implementation of the Remain in Mexico policy, from its inception and through its wind-down, issuing reports in December 2020May 2020January 2020December 2019October 2019August 2019, and February 2019, documenting the acute violence inflicted on asylum seekers.

“The Court’s decision last night creates a dangerous precedent and reality for asylum seekers and migrants at the border,” said Anwen Hughes, director of legal strategy, refugee programs. “Reigniting MPP through a suit brought by individual state governments flies in the face of binding domestic and international law. Despite ample evidence of the dangers and due process violations of MPP in the record of this case and described in a briefing by Human Rights First and other amici, the Court failed to take emergency action preventing the forced reinstatement of a policy that the Biden administration already rightly discontinued. MPP remains illegal, dangerous, and punitive to those who seek safety within the United States.”

Human Rights First also represented asylum seekers in MPP, including “Alec,” the first of approximately 1% of all individuals subjected to the policy who successfully won asylum. Another client and her 13-year-old son survived kidnapping, rape, threats, and stalking during the year and a half the U.S. government forced them to wait in Mexico, much of which they spent in a tent encampment. All of Human Rights First’s clients subjected to MPP experienced emotional and psychological trauma. Many experienced physical harm or threats of violence while attempting to exercise their legal right to seek protection in the United States.

Human Rights First urges the Mexican government to be unequivocal in rejecting any attempt to reinstate this harmful policy that caused untold suffering and created disastrous humanitarian conditions in Mexican cities.


Published on August 25, 2021


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