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Biden Betrays Another Campaign Promise to Asylum-Seekers

By restoring and expanding the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program, Biden has again turned his back on people seeking refuge.

December 8, 2021

On December 2, the Biden administration officially announced plans to begin reimplementing the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP)—more accurately known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. This decision comes after the Supreme Court in August sided with a district judge in Texas, who ordered Biden to restore a version of the defunct Trump-era program, pending an agreement with Mexico. 

The administration was legally bound by this injunction to comply in good faith; however, they have also gone further than it required, violating once again their campaign promise to restore asylum protections. Not only has Biden’s team reintroduced MPP—a Trump-era policy that forced asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while waiting for court hearings in the United States—they have also expanded the program. 

Under the original version of MPP, only nationals of Spanish-speaking countries were typically enrolled in the program. In Biden’s new version, nationals of all Western hemisphere countries may be subjected to the policy. Haitian asylum-seekers and other immigrants from majority-Black countries may now be returned to Mexico, where they face heightened rates of employment discrimination, harassment, and violence. 

Worse still, the administration also plans to continue using the related Title 42 order to summarily expel asylum-seekers without a hearing. Like MPP, this policy has resulted in people being stranded across the border in dangerous conditions. Asylum-seekers in makeshift tent encampments near the border are routinely kidnapped, held for ransom, and tortured to extort payments from their family members. 

Title 42 authorities have also been used to expel people directly to the countries they fled, including Haiti, without any screening for humanitarian protection needs. Such expulsions blatantly violate international law, as well as the U.S. asylum statute that Biden as a senator helped enact decades ago. Under both U.S. and international law, all people who express fear of persecution are entitled to a fair hearing of their asylum needs. 

UUSC and our partners are working to end both MPP and the Title 42 policy and to restore access to asylum at the U.S. border. Last month, UUSC advocates contributed signatures to a joint petition campaign that delivered more than 200,000 names to the White House calling for asylum restoration. UUSC’s partners at Asylum Access Mexico work to ensure access to humanitarian protections in the region, and the UndocuBlack Network was among the first and only organizations to document the effects of Title 42 expulsions on asylum-seekers forcibly expelled to Haiti. 

There is no safe, humane, or justifiable policy that returns people to the risk of kidnapping and persecution. Biden and Harris must be true to their word and end both MPP and the Title 42 policy as soon as possible. 

Photo Credit: iStock—MattGush

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