Inhumane Again: Remain in Mexico Rollout Confirms Endemic Flaws of Unfixable Policy
As the Biden administration began its rollout of Remain in Mexico (RMX) 2.0 in early December 2021, Human Rights First researchers observed the initial returns to Ciudad Juárez from El Paso, Texas and conducted interviews with migrants and asylum seekers subjected to the policy. The Remain in Mexico policy is riddled with fundamental flaws that were reflected in the policy’s reimplementation. The people subjected to the restarted policy were turned away to a highly dangerous region where asylum seekers and migrants have suffered well-documented, targeted attacks and grave human rights abuses. Before being returned to Ciudad Juárez under RMX 2.0, migrants and asylum seekers suffered inhumane treatment in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, where they were prohibited from contacting their families and denied meaningful access to legal counsel.
Human Rights First closely monitored the rollout and implementation of the Trump administration’s RMX 1.0 and tracked over 1,500 kidnappings and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers from 2019 to 2020. Since the Biden administration took office, the organization has also tracked over 7,600 violent attacks and kidnapping against asylum seekers and migrants stranded in Mexico under the similarly inhumane Title 42 policy – the other Trump administration policy used by the Biden administration that violates U.S. asylum law and treaty obligations, and turns people seeking asylum back to danger.
On December 8, 2021, Human Rights First observed as CBP returned the first migrants and asylum seekers to Mexico under RMX 2.0. During the first week of the policy’s implementation, CBP returned 114 migrants and asylum seekers from Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to Ciudad Juárez under RMX. Human Rights First conducted interviews with 16 of the people returned to Ciudad Juárez under the policy during the first week of RMX 2.0, and also spoke with U.S. and Mexican officers as well as staff of humanitarian agencies and shelters.