LIRS Statement on Restart of "Remain in MExico" Policy
December 7, 2021
Washington D.C. – On Thursday, December 2, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” would resume the week of December 6. In October, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memorandum to terminate “Remain in Mexico” after a federal court vacated a previous attempt to end the program. The federal government’s appeal of that ruling is pending.
For the time being, DHS officials have stated they will abide by the court’s order to reinstate the program, promising to incorporate more humane practices. However, the Biden administration’s re-implementation expands the policy’s mandate to all Western hemisphere nationals, including Haitians who were previously exempt under the Trump administration, which was not required by the court order.
In parallel, the Biden administration continues to voluntarily use Title 42, an obscure public health measure, to expel asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants without due process protections.
The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:
“The administration has taken one step forward in its original attempt to end the program, and two steps backward in reimplementing it alongside the shameful Title 42 expulsion policy – both of which have resulted in kidnapping, assaults, and gender-based violence against migrants. It makes no difference to vulnerable and exploited asylum seekers whether their suffering is in compliance with a court order. Voluntarily expanding the scope of ‘Remain in Mexico’ to the entirety of Western hemisphere nationals is egregious, and will undoubtedly have a disparate impact on Haitians.
We urge the Biden administration to abide by its promise to forge a humane, fair, and efficient immigration system for those desperately seeking protection. By Secretary Mayorkas’ own admission, the program flies in the face of those principles, as it ‘has endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and failed to address the root causes of irregular migration.’
As stewards of the richest nation in the world and a worldwide beacon of refuge, the administration has a moral obligation to stop perpetuating the dangerous restrictionism of the Trump era, which has become the deeply disturbing centerpiece of its own immigration policy. Our values and our global humanitarian leadership demand bold solutions that end the refoulement of vulnerable people and restore protections mandated by U.S. and international refugee law.”