Washington D.C. (June 24, 2021) -- The Biden administration announced it is expanding the scope of asylum seekers eligible to seek protection after having been harmed by the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain in Mexico program. This new phase contemplates reopening or reactivating the cases of people denied access to the U.S. asylum system while they were in MPP. Many missed hearing dates because of dangerous conditions in Mexico or had their cases terminated because the court process was defective. For example, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) clients received removal orders and lost the opportunity to seek asylum when they were kidnapped in Mexico and unable to appear for their hearings. Until now, the Biden administration only allowed people who still had active cases in the MPP system to receive permission to enter the United States to pursue asylum.
NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy stated the following in response:
“The U.S. inflicted unspeakable harm on tens of thousands of asylum seekers at the U.S. border through the Remain in Mexico program. Thousands were assaulted, kidnapped, raped, or even murdered. Every day that these families have to wait to enter the United States exacerbates the anxiety and danger they experience. The Biden administration’s announcement is a welcome step in protecting tens of thousands the U.S. government pushed into unsafe conditions.
“MPP stranded over 70,000 migrants and asylum seekers across the U.S. border in Mexico while their cases were pending before U.S. immigration judges. Today, families still live in “tent cities” without proper access to food, water, or medical and mental health care. We urge the Biden administration to redress the lasting harm inflicted on migrants and asylum seekers subject to MPP. Fully dismantling MPP requires a pathway for impacted individuals to heal and gain permanency after the harm they suffered at the hands of the U.S. government.”