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Washington, D.C. -- The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) welcomes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) long overdue issuance of a new memorandum terminating the inherently inhumane and unlawful Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. 

Lisa Koop, NIJC associate director of legal services, issued the following statement in response: 
“Since the program’s inception under the prior administration, Remain in Mexico has been an unmitigated human rights disaster. We watched our clients anguish as they returned to Mexico following hearings at the Laredo tent facilities, knowing they faced enormous risk of being kidnapped or otherwise harmed.  Indeed, many times our clients did experience violence in Mexico.” 

“Last month, NIJC joined over 70 legal service providers in a walk-out protest telling the Biden administration that we refuse to be complicit in a new iteration of this program. We know from experience that having legal representation does not shield people from the harm they face once returned to Mexico. We prepared cases with our MPP clients by telephone while they spoke to us from inside closets where they were hiding, or while they spoke softly because they knew they were being surveilled by cartels.  We tried all manner of tactics to secure permission for our clients to remain in the United States during their asylum proceedings. Nearly all of those tactics failed, including requests for non-refoulement interviews, after which our clients were always summarily returned to Mexico. Restarting MPP would be unconscionable. 

“Once again, we call on the Biden administration to take every step available to end Remain in Mexico and other border policies that subject asylum seekers to harm equal to – or worse – than the harm they fled in their home countries.  Anything short of full termination of these programs means cosigning a program designed to make Black, Brown, and Indigenous people suffer for seeking lawful protection at the U.S. border.  

“Ending MPP should be the first step of dismantling signature anti-asylum policies. The Biden administration’s continued use of Title 42 expulsions has produced its own horrific record of nearly 8,000 kidnappings and other attacks on migrants and asylum seekers, as well as resulting in the violent treatment and expulsion of thousands of Haitian families, adults, and children. Ending one policy while leaving the other will do little to fulfill domestic and international law.”