Human Rights First Welcomes Admission of First Asylum Seekers Forced to “Remain in Mexico” After Two Years of Danger and Delay

WASHINGTON — Today, Human Rights First welcomed the news that the first asylum seekers stranded in Mexico under former President Trump’s cruel and illegal Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico,” had been safely received in the United States to have their asylum cases assessed as required by U.S. law.

“Today is just the very beginning of the end of the Migrant Protection Protocols,” said Kennji Kizuka, senior researcher and policy analyst for Human Rights First. “Thousands of asylum seekers remain in grave danger in Mexico as the Biden administration slowly winds down this policy. Over the past two years, we’ve tracked more than 1,500 public reports of murder, rape, kidnapping, torture, and assault against people returned to Mexico under MPP. The Biden administration must act quickly to bring asylum seekers subjected to this cruel and illegal policy to safety in the United States.”

Human Rights First and its asylum-seeking clients subjected to MPP eagerly await a quick expansion of efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to transit asylum seekers to safety through ports of entry along the southern border. With some 25,000 pending MPP cases, many individuals are still waiting in danger in Mexico as the policy is rolled back. As of February 19, 2021, Human Rights First has tracked at least 1,544 public reports of murder, rape, kidnapping, torture, and assault against individuals returned to Mexico under MPP, including 341 reports of kidnappings or attempted kidnappings of children.

“Even as the United States begins to welcome those subjected to MPP, other people seeking refuge are being expelled to danger as the Biden administration has effectively adopted the Trump administration’s misuse of public health authority,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First. “While we should celebrate the progress made by welcoming the first group of MPP asylum seekers into the United States, the Biden administration’s continuing use of the roundly discredited expulsion policy is an urgent concern to advocates for refugee protection and human rights, as well as public health experts.”

Human Rights First’s recommendations for ending MPP are outlined in this guide and the December 2020 report addressing the damage inflicted on asylum seekers by the Trump administration’s MPP and Title 42 expulsion policies. People seeking refuge in the United States can be received swiftly and safely despite the ongoing pandemic, as leading public health experts have explained in their recommendations and in a January 28 letter to the CDC.

Over the last two years, Human Rights First has extensively documented the illegality, chaos, and human damage caused by MPP. These include reports issued in March 2019August 2019October 2019December 2019January 2020May 2020 and December 2020, as well as its tracking of public reports of kidnappings and other attacks based on interviews conducted by Human Rights First with asylum seekers, attorneys, and humanitarian workers, as well as reports by journalists and other human rights groups.


Published on February 19, 2021


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