Biden Administration Reinstates Remain in Mexico, Under Federal Court Order

Immigration Policy Brief #132 | By: Kathryn Baron | December 13, 2021

Header photo taken from: Wall Street Journal




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Photo taken from: Border Report

Policy Summary

Nearly a year ago, the Biden Administration suspended the Trump era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), aka Remain in Mexico. The policy consisted of a set of rules requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexican border towns while their cases were processed in the US. In April 2021, the Attorney-Generals of Texas and Missouri sued the Biden Administration for suspending MPP and called for an injunction to pause the policy’s termination. In August, the injunction was granted, claiming Biden’s suspension of the program was not executed in the appropriate procedural manner and therefore, fell extrajudicially, from the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Though Department of Homeland Security repealed the decision instantaneously, the Biden Administration is still required to reinstate the policy while an official decision is underway. Ideally, as the courts deliberate and go through the proper protocol and bureaucratic systems, the Biden Administration will be allowed to permanently terminate the program. As of December 6, MPP has been relaunched at the El Paso, TX port of entry and could spread to others as well. 

The current limit of migrants enrolled per day in El Paso is 30 but expected to increase as the policy expands to other locations (such as San Diego and Calexico). Biden’s version allegedly has more humanitarian-minded revisions, namely access to COVID-19 vaccines and improving access to legal counsel, but in essence is the same. Both renditions technically promise quick immigration proceedings, work permits as applicable, access to secure shelters and Mexican health care. However, migrants are still exposed to kidnapping, extortion, and rape while they await their case and the numbers are only expected to increase. 

Policy Analysis

Early on, President Biden pledged to end the program and began the lengthy process of admitting migrants. All these efforts are quickly being reversed as the recent ruling demanded a reinstallation of the policy and has left thousands of migrants in stagnation, with the high likelihood of further backlogging an already congested immigration system. Director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center stated that when the US government relies “so much on NGOs to make things happen, they try to justify programs that are inhumane and don’t restore asylum.” Human rights and immigration-oriented organizations such as the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center have borne the brunt of the burden during the Trump Administration to ensure migrants had access to legal counsel, basic human needs, health services, etc. This set a sort of unspoken precedent for civil society and organizations to fill the humanitarian gaps where the executive branch fell short. 


Photo taken from: San Francisco Chronicle

Throughout the Trump Administration and in the wake of its tumultuous legacy, it is easy for civil society and NGOs to be left responsible for filling the gaps and bandaging the effects of a broken immigration system, but it is pivotal for the US to regain its status as a sovereign nation and beacon of asylum to hold its policymakers and all branches of government accountable in order to move forward. 

Engagement Resources​

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The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low-income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.

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The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties of the Constitution and US laws guaranteed to all its citizens. 


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