Biden administration makes changes to ‘Remain in Mexico’ policies for asylum seekers


DATE: June 23, 2021

CONTACT: Kelsey Parsons | 202-945-8320 | [email protected]


Biden administration makes changes to ‘Remain in Mexico’ policies for asylum seekers

The Biden administration has announced expanded eligibility for immigrants as part of the next phase in its wind-down of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). This change will allow more immigrants, previously forced to remain in Mexico while waiting for their U.S. asylum cases to be heard only to be ordered deported back to their home country when they missed their court date due to this policy, to get another chance to be heard in court in the U.S., according to a notice sent to Congress on Tuesday. We now urge the administration to further expand processing eligibility for immigrants and end Title 42, which continues to close the border to nearly all asylum seekers.

During the Trump administration, approximately 70,000 people were impacted by these Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), known as 'Remain in Mexico' policies; they were either deported or blocked from crossing the border, robbing them of a chance to attend their hearings.

Previously, the Biden administration has allowed those with open cases to enter the U.S.. Now, the administration will also allow those deported “in absentia,” or who had their cases terminated by an immigration judge, to seek entry into the U.S. as well. 

“This is big news for the immigrants forced to live a life of fear and uncertainty as they navigate complicated U.S. asylum policies. The previous U.S. administration tried to block asylum cases with various hardline policies, and it didn’t work - it also made the lives of these vulnerable immigrants seeking safety at our border worse. This new decision is a sign that the Biden administration is more willing to base U.S. asylum policies in compassion and reality, and this change will make a difference in the lives of the many immigrants unfairly forced from attending the hearings that could decide their fate in this country. This is a welcome move, and we hope it is the first in many changes to U.S. immigration policies to come,” said Basma Alawee, We Are All America campaign manager.

“The ‘Remain in Mexico’ program put many lives in danger and unfairly set up asylum claims for failure. This move to allow those deported before they could be heard in court to proceed with their asylum claims is one that is long awaited. Our border is a place of danger and dashed hopes, but it can be so much more. America should be a country of welcome, and we must retain this legacy,” said Camila Rojas, Florida Refugee Delegate and Opportunity For All member. 

“As a leading Latin American immigrant-led and immigrant serving organization, we applaud the formal ending of the deeply unfair policy with the misnomer Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), popularly known as ‘Remain in Mexico’. This program was designed to impede individuals from exercising their right to apply for asylum and other humanitarian protections programs in the U.S., particularly from Central American nations. The human pain inflicted by the MPP has been broad and deep. While this decision by the Biden administration is a welcome one, we call on them to also find the courage to revoke the use of Title 42, an exclusion mechanism for new arrivals to the U.S. based on health concerns invoked by the Trump administration which has been kept in place until today. The right to apply for humanitarian protection in the U.S. is an elementary right of every person seeking safety. The U.S. government should honor this right,” said Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas. 

“We thank the Biden administration for reversing the draconian border policies put in place by President Trump, and allowing migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. a chance to fight for their future. There is still a long way to go to streamline our nation's immigration policies, but this is a great first step,” said Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director.

“This is an important step toward welcoming more people and families into the United States who have been inhumanely and immorally trapped in MPP," said Meredith Owen, director of policy and advocacy for Church World Service (CWS). “CWS commends the Biden administration for moving into the next phase in winding down the unlawful ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and giving approximately 34,000 more asylum seekers a chance to reach safety. As we confront the worst displacement crisis on record with more than 82 million people forced from their homes worldwide, the U.S. has a moral and legal obligation to redress the harm caused by anti-asylum policies. CWS calls on the administration to significantly expand eligibility for everyone impacted by MPP - including those who crossed into the U.S. in between ports of entry - and provide a remedy for all asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and immigrants impacted by the program. They must also urgently terminate Title 42 expulsions to prevent the fatal consequences of returning people to harm. CWS stands ready to work with the administration and our member communities to serve asylum seekers and immigrants in need of humanitarian assistance."