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Biden shuts down controversial ‘Stay in Mexico’ program

The Biden administration will end the use of a Trump-era policy that forced asylum-seeking migrants to stay in Mexico, after a Supreme Court ruling said the government could cancel the program , according to two US officials.

The administration’s action follows a federal judge’s decision to overturn his previous decision to restart the policy.

“Remain in Mexico,” officially known as the Migration Protection Protocols Policy, or MPP, has turned away more than 60,000 asylum seekers under the Trump administration, as part of an effort to deter the migration to the southern border. Many immigrants have been victims of rape, kidnapping and murder while languishing in Mexico, according to advocacy groups.

Department of Homeland Security officials confirmed the decision late Monday.

“Individuals are no longer newly enrolled in MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be unenrolled upon their return for their next scheduled court date,” said DHS spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa. “Those deregistered from the MPP will continue their removal process in the United States.”

In early 2021, the Biden administration began rolling back the MPP by allowing thousands of people caught up in the program in Mexico to come to the United States. In June of that year, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued a memo officially ending the policy.

But in August 2021, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the government to relaunch the policy; his order took effect shortly thereafter. Since then, thousands of migrants have been screened into the controversial program.

Then, in June, the U.S. Supreme Court said the administration could continue its efforts to nullify the program. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion, finding that the law did not require the government to send asylum seekers back to Mexico.

On Monday, following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Kacsmaryk reversed his decision.

Mayorkas wrote in an October 2021 memo ending the program for the second time that while he understood the policy had likely resulted in lower arrivals at the border, it should not continue. He said the policy imposed “substantial and unjustifiable human costs on people who were exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico. The Biden-Harris administration, by contrast, is pursuing a series of policies that discourage irregular migration while encouraging safe, orderly, and humane pathways.

Use of the program declined toward the end of the Trump administration as officials turned to the pandemic-era rule, Title 42, which allows immediate border pushbacks.

The Biden administration continued to use Title 42 before attempting to reduce it in the spring, an effort that was blocked in court.

“DHS is committed to ending the court-ordered implementation of the MPP in a prompt and orderly manner,” Espinosa said in the statement. “As Secretary Mayorkas said, the MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and draws resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border.”

Los Angeles Times

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