Proposing Alternate ‘Remain in Mexico’ Raises Profound Human Rights Concerns

WASHINGTON — Human Rights First expressed its alarm and profound concern that the Biden administration is reportedly considering creating its own version of the notorious Trump administration policy ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, labeled the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) by the Trump administration, despite the program’s illegality and infliction of mass human rights abuses.

“Turning away people seeking asylum at our border is a blatant violation of U.S. refugee law and a proven recipe for mass human rights abuses,” said Human Rights First Senior Director of Refugee Protection Eleanor Acer. “The Biden administration rightly ended this cruel and illegal policy. The last thing this administration should do is reverse course and embrace the Trump administration playbook. There is no way to fix an unfixable and unlawful model. Any effort to launch a version of this policy would be doomed from the start, both legally and morally. Given the widespread control and reach of the cartels that target asylum seekers and migrants in Mexico, and the complicity of Mexican authorities, the notion that U.S. asylum seekers would be safe waiting in Mexico is simply ludicrous.”

Human Rights First monitored the implementation of the Remain in Mexico policy, from its inception and through its wind-down, issuing reports in December 2020, May 2020, January 2020, December 2019, October 2019, August 2019, and February 2019 documenting the acute violence inflicted on asylum seekers. The organization also represented asylum seekers subjected to this illegal policy. Human Rights First tracked over 1,500 cases of asylum seekers and migrants, placed into MPP, who were subjected to kidnappings and attacks.

Human Rights First also joined other organizations in filing an amicus brief today along with former immigration judges and other immigration organizations in a litigation brought by the states of Texas and Mexico that seeks to force the Biden administration to restart this disastrous policy.

“Going down this route would endanger the lives of asylum seekers, attorneys, and humanitarian workers, and create a new humanitarian crisis – a lesson the Biden administration should have learned already from its disturbing use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy,” Acer added, “The president and his administration must stop sacrificing the human rights of people in need of protection in the face of predictable xenophobic rhetoric, and stand up for this country’s values and principles.”

To speak with Acer or others working with refugees and asylum seekers at Human Rights First, contact West End Strategy Team at [email protected], (202) 412-4270.


Published on August 18, 2021


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