The Biden administration has announced plans to restart the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy.
In March 2020, Biden declared on Twitter that “Donald Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is dangerous, inhumane, and goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants.”
“My administration will end it,” he said.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced it will restart the policy next week following a deal with the Mexican government. Formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, the so-called Remain in Mexico policy, requires asylum seekers to wait outside the United States for their immigration court hearings.
According to NBC News, the program will restart at one border location on Monday and eventually involve seven entry points, including the border city of El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, California.
The Washington Post, which first reported on the agreement between the U.S. and Mexico to restart the policy, notes that Biden ended the program when he took office earlier this year. Biden claimed that the policy was “inhumane” because of the violence migrants who await court hearings in Mexico allegedly face.
Following an influx of millions of illegal aliens into the United States through the porous Texas border, state officials in Texas and Missouri sued the administration in April over its suspension of the Trump-era program.
The states argued that ending the program caused an undue burden for local governments because illegal aliens use state services such as the issuance of driver’s licences, and hospital care. A federal judge in Texas ordered the policy to be reinstated pending the outcome of the lawsuit in August.
The Biden administration fought against the order but lost on appeals, and the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration. The Biden administration finally agreed to abide by the court order, but claims it intends to end the program eventually.
According to NBC News, the administration spent several weeks negotiating with the Mexican government on the terms for restarting the program.
The Biden administration tried but failed to hide it from the public after the Mexican government released a statement voicing humanitarian concerns about the program and called for the United States to commit expediting cases to limit the time asylum seekers spend in Mexico.
Most of the asylum seekers seeking passage into the United States through Mexico are provided for by the Mexican government, which is given support by the U.S., which provides them with COVID vaccines and access to attorneys. The Mexican government is calling for the U.S. to commit to providing more support for the asylum seekers it has to look after.
Following the public demand, the Biden administration said it had made humanitarian improvements to the policy, NBC News reported:
The U.S. will generally conclude all cases within six months of an individual’s initial return to Mexico, improve access to attorneys and exclude "particularly vulnerable individuals" — such as the elderly or disabled — from the program. The U.S. will also offer Covid vaccines, "safe and secure shelter," health care among other services, the administration said.
Still, immigration advocates have warned that despite humanitarian improvements, restarting the program will still put asylum seekers at risk. The nonprofit Human Rights First recorded more than 1,500 cases of violence, including murder, rape, torture and kidnapping, against migrants forced to return to Mexico under the policy as of February.