MSF welcomes moves to end Remain in Mexico policy

Biden administration must do more to keep its promises to create a safe and humane asylum system.

Mexico 2020 © MSF

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the latest moves toward ending the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which had forced thousands of asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for their protection claims to be considered by the United States. MSF teams in Mexico have treated people who have suffered directly as a result of one of the most harmful immigration policies ever imposed in the United States. On Monday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement that no individuals would be newly enrolled in the program and once again acknowledged that “MPP has endemic flaws [and] imposes unjustifiable human costs.” 

The DHS statement came hours after a US district court lifted an injunction that had required the Biden administration to reinstate MPP, a policy first implemented by the Trump administration in early 2019. The district court decision follows an earlier Supreme Court ruling, effective August 1, upholding the Biden administration’s authority to end the program. 

Dr. Carrie Teicher, director of programs for MSF-USA, gave the following statement:

MSF welcomes the Biden administration’s renewed effort to end MPP. We are relieved that there will be no new enrollments in the program, and that individuals currently in Mexico under MPP will be disenrolled. To avoid further harm, DHS must urgently allow the thousands of asylum seekers previously sent back to Mexico under MPP to enter the US to await their hearings. 

Our medical teams in Mexico have witnessed the catastrophic impacts of MPP on the health and wellbeing of people forced back to dangerous cities such as Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Monterrey. People are trapped in danger, with no access to basic services, and are scared for their lives. We are extremely concerned about the worsening conditions for asylum seekers in Mexico, and the impacts on people’s physical and mental health. The Biden administration must waste no time to end MPP once and for all. More than 75,000 asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico since MPP was first implemented in January 2019.

While DHS recognizes the “unjustifiable human costs” of MPP, the Biden administration continues to implement the Title 42 policy that has been used to carry out more than 2 million expulsions without due process. We once again urge the Biden administration to apply the same reasoning used to end MPP to end Title 42. We see that the situation for asylum seekers in Mexico's northern border cities is sharply deteriorating as expulsions under Title 42 continue.  Under Title 42, the US sends migrants and asylum seekers back to Mexico and other countries of origin and residence, including Haiti, Brazil, and Colombia.

We once again call on the Biden administration to uphold its promises to create a safe and humane asylum system, to respect the fact that seeking safety is not a crime, and reopen asylum processing at the US-Mexico border.