(Photo from Congressman Kevin McCarthy Twitter.)

Program was terminated by President Biden in January 2021, then reimplemented due to a federal court order. 

In December 2018, the Trump Administration created a new program called the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), often referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” program. MPP went into effect in 2019 and sent nearly 70,000 migrants back to Mexico. When President Joe Biden took office in 2021, the program was suspended and terminated.

At the end of last week the U.S. reached an agreement with the Mexican government to revive the MPP, as required by a federal court order. When the court injunction is lifted, the Department of Homeland Security (DHA) says the MPP will be terminated.

Photo courtesy of Congressman Michael Guest.

In June 2021, Congressman Michael Guest (R-MS 3), member of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas calling for transparency into the abrupt suspension of Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Guest stated that the Biden Administration likely failed to conduct a proper analysis or notify the appropriate stakeholders before the suspension took effect.

“The Department’s seemingly impulsive announcement lacked explanation, justification, or any other indicia that the decision had been made only after the careful deliberations and consultations that are both appropriate and lawfully required of Executive Branch agencies by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA),” Guest wrote in the letter.

Last Thursday, Departments of State and Justice alongside DHS announced key changes to MPP to address humanitarian concerns that had been raised by the government of Mexico and shared by the U.S. government.

“MPP had endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and did not address the root causes of irregular migration,” Secretary Mayorkas wrote in an October memo. “MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, it fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that individuals deserve under the law.”

DHS stated in a press release that they and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will work out final operational details and begin the court-ordered re-implementation of the program around Monday, December 6, 2021.

The program will eventually involve seven entry points in San Diego, Calexico, Nogales, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo, and Brownsville. DHS is working with the Department of State and the government of Mexico to provide safe transport to and from certain locations in Mexico to U.S. ports of entry to attend court hearings. They are also working to guarantee access to safe and secure shelters in Mexico.

“U.S. Government will work closely with the Government of Mexico to ensure that there are safe and secure shelters available for those enrolled in MPP; that individuals returned under MPP have secure transportation to and from U.S. ports of entry; and that MPP enrollees are able to seek work permits, healthcare, and other services in Mexico,” DHS reported, adding, “The Administration remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values. DHS also continues to process individuals in accordance with U.S. law and our mission.”