Department of Homeland Security

DHS seeks to block reimplementation of Remain in Mexico after penning new memo

The Biden administration late Friday asked the courts to unwind a decision forcing them to reimplement the Remain in Mexico policy after it once again issued a memo rescinding the Trump-era directive.

The motion to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asks the court to vacate an August decision from a federal district court that required the Biden administration to send undocumented migrants to Mexico while they await a decision on their asylum cases. The 5th Circuit upheld the decision, writing that the Biden team must implement the policy "in good faith."

The U.S. was set to implement the program in mid-November, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday issued a new 39-page memo rescinding Remain in Mexico, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), in an effort to respond to claims from Texas and Missouri that the government hadn't fully weighed the ramifications of rescinding the policy.

"After carefully considering the arguments, evidence, and perspectives presented by those who support re-implementation of MPP, those who support terminating the program, and those who have argued for continuing MPP in a modified form, I have determined that MPP should be terminated," DHS Secretary Alejando Mayorkas wrote in the Friday memo.

"In reaching this conclusion, I recognize that MPP likely contributed to reduced migratory flows. But it did so by imposing substantial and unjustifiable human costs on the individuals who were exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico," Mayorkas wrote, adding that the policy "fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that all persons deserve." 

Under MPP, the U.S. transported 70,000 asylum-seekers to Mexico to await a determination in their case, though an estimated 25,000 people are still waiting after many would-be asylum-seekers simply left the country.

Mexico has also relayed serious concerns about restarting MPP, telling the U.S. it doesn't want elderly, sick or LGBT asylum-seekers to be sent to the country due to concerns for their safety. It also pressed the U.S. to resolve cases more quickly, with DHS giving a "general commitment" to deciding new asylum cases within six months.

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