Washington, D.C. (June 30, 2022) — Today, the Supreme Court rendered its long-awaited decision on the fate of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain in Mexico program that has forced over 75,000 asylum seekers to wait in dangerous conditions in Mexico while their claims are pending in U.S. immigration courts. In its decision, Biden v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that the immigration statutes cannot be read to say MPP is mandatory and the Biden administration followed the law when terminating MPP. The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) welcomes the Supreme Court’s ruling that nothing in U.S. immigration law requires that asylum seekers be forced to remain in Mexico; and that the Biden administration’s actions to terminate the odious MPP program were within the discretion of the administration.
The last administration established MPP and began to return people to deadly conditions as part of a racist agenda to dismantle the asylum system. It sought to dehumanize Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and block them from exercising the human right to seek asylum. Drawing on its experience representing asylum seekers in MPP, NIJC participated in two amicus briefs calling for an end to MPP in light of the insurmountable barriers to justice imposed by the program. NIJC continues to represent dozens of asylum seekers who experienced MPP, including some who are currently in Mexico awaiting adjudication of their asylum claims.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, NIJC’s Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy stated:
“Asylum seekers have languished and human rights advocates have remained incredulous that a program as fundamentally cruel as MPP could not only be implemented by the prior administration, but forced by the courts to remain in place under this administration. While we are relieved today that the Supreme Court agrees this program may be ended, we mourn the lives destroyed by MPP. MPP defaced basic principles of due process and decades of U.S. commitment to protect people from harm and persecution. Throughout this litigation, the human stories of asylum seekers who suffer under MPP have been ignored. While we agree with the majority that faithful statutory interpretation, foreign relations concerns, and the discretion of the executive branch require that it be permissible to terminate MPP, our focus is on the people who have suffered and continue to suffer because of this maliciously-conceived program. We call on the Biden administration to wind down MPP and afford everyone subjected to its horrors entry to pursue their asylum claims within the United States. We call on Congress to clarify the statute so that there can be no doubt that not only is it permissible to end MPP, but unlawful for a future administration to resurrect MPP.
“It is not lost on us that this decision comes in the midst of a very difficult time for migrant rights and collective faith in the judicial branch. We mourn the recent deaths of over fifty people who suffered a terrible fate because of cruel deterrence policies such as MPP. At the same time, the Supreme Court has dealt historic setbacks to women’s rights, the fight against climate change, gun safety, and other frontline concerns for people in this country. Against that backdrop, today’s victory is a stark reminder that the fight for basic human rights and dignity continues. We cannot rest until we secure those basic rights for everyone regardless of race, gender, or nationality.”