Human Rights First Urges Biden Administration to Honor Promise to Permanently End Trump’s “Remain in Mexico”

WASHINGTON — In response to the Biden administration’s announcement today that it will restart the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico,” in the coming days, Human Rights First announced plans to restart its research on MPP, working with partners, to document the human rights abuses suffered by people turned away to wait in danger under this policy.

“The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was a humanitarian disaster when it was first implemented, and it is doomed to be so again,” said Human Rights First senior director for refugee protection Eleanor Acer. “A laundry list of improvements cannot fix an inherently inhumane, illegal, unjust, and unfixable policy. Every day that the Biden administration continues to use Trump 2.0 policies that evade U.S. refugee law, both ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42, U.S. officers will be delivering people seeking protection back to places where they are targets of kidnappings, torture, and brutal attacks. The administration must honor its promise to terminate ‘Remain in Mexico,’ end its misuse of Title 42, exempt asylum seekers from any use of these horrific policies, and instead process them as required by U.S. refugee law.”

As MPP restarts, Human Rights First will also restart its monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses against migrants and asylum seekers sent by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Mexico under the program, while continuing its reporting on similar abuses inflicted by the Title 42 policy – the Trump policy that relies on baseless public health claims to turn away people seeking asylum. Human Rights First has tracked over 1,500 reports of kidnappings and attacks against migrants subjected to MPP under the Trump administration. Human Rights First’s most recent report found at least 7,647 reported kidnappings and other violent attacks on people blocked or expelled to Mexico under Title 42 since President Biden took office, and outlined the dangers faced by attorneys and humanitarian workers attempting to assist asylum seekers sent to Mexico.

“It is both disappointing and disturbing that researchers must now expand their efforts to document grave human rights abuses suffered by asylum seekers turned away to danger due to the Biden administration’s implementation of Trump policies,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director for research and analysis on refugee protection at Human Rights First. “With asylum seekers systematically targeted for kidnappings and attacks in Mexico, we fear that a renewed Remain in Mexico program is doomed to inflict more human suffering.”

The Biden administration is moving forward with the renewed MPP despite DHS memos issued in October 2021 to re-terminate the program, and in the wake of a U.S. government filing to vacate a court ruling that ordered the program’s resumption. In October, Human Rights First urged immediate action to take legal steps to end the program permanently.

Human Rights First has repeatedly outlined recommendations for the Biden administration to restore asylum and uphold refugee law, including restoring asylum at U.S. ports of entry.


Published on December 2, 2021


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