Biden Follows Stephen Miller and Trump’s Lead, Plans to Resume MPP Cruelty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org 

 

Biden Follows Stephen Miller and Trump’s Lead, Plans to Resume MPP Cruelty

 

Washington The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign responded today to reports that the Biden administration will resume implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols, an illegal Trump-era policy that returned people seeking asylum to unsafe conditions in Mexico. Under MPP people seeking asylum were forced to await their U.S. court dates in dangerous conditions in northern Mexico, under the threat of violence, kidnappings, and homelessness. 

MPP in tandem with another violent policy, Title 42, is exposing families, children, and adults to the very same dangers. Since the president took office, human rights investigators have documented over 6,300 violent attacks on people expelled to Mexico. If President Biden truly wants to turn the page on the racism and cruelty of the Trump era, his administration must immediately stop the expulsions, permanently end MPP, and welcome with dignity all people seeking safety at our nation’s doorstep.  as several #WelcomeWithDignity partners asserted in an amicus brief — any form of MPP would in fact violate the laws of the United States and its treaty obligations to people escaping persecution.

 

“Restarting any version of the Trump administration’s notorious Remain in Mexico policy will lead to immense human suffering,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director of Refugee Protection, Human Rights First. “Trump 2.0 policies at the border are a recipe for continued cruelty, disorder, and violations of refugee law. The Biden administration must honor its promise to terminate this horrific program and also end its Title 42 policy, which likewise sends people seeking refuge to places where they are targets of kidnappings, attacks, and persecution.”


“The Biden administration has chosen to reinstate MPP for political expediency at the cost of human lives,” said Lisa Koop, Associate Director of Legal Services, National Immigrant Justice Center. “Reinstating MPP will place thousands of migrants and asylum seekers in danger. NIJC has worked with countless individuals who faced unimaginable violence, including women and children who were kidnapped and sexually assaulted while in MPP.  Meanwhile, the Title 42 expulsion policy remains in place, causing parallel strife for those seeking safety. Once again, we call on the Biden administration to take all measures legally available to bring this horrific record to bear and achieve termination of this inhumane program.”

 

“MPP is unsafe, inhumane, and unlawful and the Biden Administration’s continued use of this policy is cementing his legacy as a continuation of what Trump started,” said Jonathan Goldman, Executive Director of the Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice. “The administration’s delay in issuing a new termination memo is an insincere confirmation that they support this cruel policy and they must terminate the injunction immediately. Asylum is a human right and we must allow people to access this essential form of relief.”

 

“There is no humane way to implement MPP,” said Jorge Loweree, Policy Director at the American Immigration Council. “The Trump administration created MPP to eliminate due process for 70,000 people and forced vulnerable families to run a gauntlet of kidnappers and extortionists just to get to the courtroom door. The last two years prove that there is no protection possible through the Migrant Protection Protocols.”

 

“It is disgraceful that this administration continues to put the lives of thousands of children and families in danger while using the courts as an excuse. The reality is that people will be subject to violence, rape, extortion,assault—and in some cases family separation,” said Paola Luisi, Director with Families Belong Together. “President Biden promised he would address the Migrant Protection Protocols on day one of his administration, and instead we have witnessed a Trump-era assault on children and families. It is unacceptable, and the Biden administration must issue a new memo immediately to end this travesty once and for all.”

 

“Remain in Mexico has caused immeasurable harm to vulnerable asylum seekers who we should instead be welcoming with dignity and compassion,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “The Biden administration has announced several significant steps to implement Remain in Mexico in compliance with the District Court’s order, yet the Biden administration has failed to issue a new memo to end this unlawful Trump policy to prevent any version of it from harming even one more person. This move is yet another in a mounting list of failings by this administration to live up to the campaign promises that got President Biden elected.  We urge the administration to reverse course and to refocus its efforts on building a just 21st century immigration system, ending all harmful deterrence policies at the border, and restoring full access to asylum — including at ports of entry — for those seeking safety and freedom in our country.” 

 

“By failing to end the MPP program once and for all and restart asylum processing, the administration is making a choice,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. “A choice to continue the racist, xenophic policies of the Trump administration. A choice to endanger the lives of human beings who are in need of protection. A choice to break the law and our legal and moral duty to provide safe haven. Enough. A fundamentally inhumane program cannot be fixed. There is no excuse for the administration’s delay in issuing a new termination memorandum—the U.S. government was able to marshal the resources to expel thousands of Haitians in a matter of days. We can no longer believe that the administration is prioritizing its promise to rebuild the asylum system. Prove us wrong.”

 

“The Remain in Mexico (MPP) policy is cruel, inhumane, and unlawful. MPP has profound and deadly consequences and will continue to put lives in jeopardy regardless of the form it takes. This policy threatens the well-being of countless people who are at risk of unnecessary harm,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service. “The administration should uphold our moral and legal obligations to people fleeing violence and persecution and restore all asylum protections. That requires immediately terminating the MPP policy by issuing a new termination memo, ending ‘Title 42’ expulsions, particularly of our Haitian neighbors, and re-envisioning a system of equity, particularly for Black asylum seekers and migrants and of protecting the dignity of all people.”

 

It is appalling and unacceptable that the Biden Administration would choose to restart a program that is a proven human rights travesty, said Daniel Tully, counsel at Justice Action Center. “On the campaign trail, President Biden himself called Remain in Mexico ‘dangerous and inhumane,’ and vowed to end it. To renege on this promise and willfully choose to move forward a program that is guaranteed to result in human rights violations including rape, kidnapping, and death boggles the mind and is simply heartbreaking. Remain in Mexico is no longer a relic of the Trump era—this racist, cruel policy is now the shameful legacy of the Biden Administration.”

 

“There is no safe way to put families in harm’s way,” said Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication at America’s Voice. “Following four years of relentless cruelty and chaos at the hands of Trump, Stephen Miller and their cronies at DHS, the Biden administration came into office promising a ‘transformative vision’ – meaning a multi-layered regional strategy of root cause alleviation, expanded refugee and legal immigration pathways, sound border management, and a fair and functional asylum process. Reinstating MPP in any form or fashion and pushing people into danger is a crisis – a moral crisis caused by the growing gap between what was promised and what the administration is doing.”

 

“The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy has already done irreparable harm to tens of thousands of people fleeing grave persecution, including survivors of gender-based violence,” said Rachel Sheridan, Litigation Counsel of the Tahirih Justice Center. “There is no humane way to restart the program, which subjects asylum seekers to further exploitation, violence, and trauma while depriving them of meaningful access to counsel and due process protections. Reimplementation of this cruel policy in any form seriously undermines the government’s obligation to provide access to asylum in the U.S.”

 

“Time and time again, the Biden administration has failed in its promise to ‘undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration’ and create a more humane immigration system,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “The re-implementation of MPP is the latest example of the U.S. government’s callous border policies and any attempt to paint its re-implementation as more humane ignores the reality that MPP puts people in peril, particularly for Black migrants who bear the brunt of these policies. The Biden administration must reinstate access to asylum and end expulsions under policies such as MPP and Title 42. Seeking asylum is a human right.”

 

“We vehemently condemn the inhumane Migration Protection Protocols (MPP),” said Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Maya Mam Nation and Executive Director of the International Mayan League. “MPP is detrimental to all asylum seekers, and we remain firm that Black and Indigenous Peoples are particularly vulnerable as it places these already at-risk groups in extremely dangerous situations in Mexico where they are targeted by human and sex traffickers, cartels, and other criminal factions, simply because of their Indigenous and Black identities. Racism, discrimination, and  language exclusion add additional factors to the detrimental treatment of our peoples and diverse communities.  Again, we reiterate the urgency for the establishment of an Indigenous Peoples Commission recognized by the U.S. government which can address the existing flaws within the U.S. Imigration system that deny our basic human rights to identify as an Indigenous person, right to speak our primary language and in turn due process.”   

 

“The Biden administration’s lack of urgency to issue a memo to terminate Remain in Mexico make it clear that they are focused on justifying restarting the policy instead of building the humane asylum system that was promised on the campaign trail,” said Luis Guerra, CLINIC’s Strategic Capacity Officer. CLINIC refuses to accept a policy where people seeking asylum will be put through an unnecessary survival gauntlet, where their ability to come out alive is part of the calculation on whether they merit access to protection. Remain in Mexico creates insurmountable due process and access to counsel issues. The administration must expedite a plan to end the Remain in Mexico policy and move us to a fair, just, and welcoming system.”

 

“There is no way to humanize an inherently inhumane policy,” said Marisa Limón Garza, Hope Border Institute’s Deputy Director. “Now is the time for the Biden administration to muster the moral courage and use every tool to fight against the political forces who want to externalize access to asylum at the southern border. Their willingness to fight the Remain in Mexico policy will be part of their legacy.”

 

“LGBTQ asylum seekers, especially transgender and Black LGBTQ migrants, suffered greatly from the remain in Mexico policy,” said Lynly Egyes, Transgender Law Center’s Legal Director. “Reimplementation of any form of that policy is unacceptable and will not keep LGBTQ people safe. There is no safe or humane way to implement a policy like this. LGBTQ asylum seekers deserve due process and safety when applying for asylum, they shouldn’t be fearing for their lives and hoping they will be able to safely make it to court.”

 

“Remain in Mexico is an unnecessary, illegal, and inhumane policy that puts migrants and asylum seekers  in danger as they wait in limbo for their chance to petition for safety in the U.S., said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “We encourage the Biden Administration to do everything in its power to continue challenging  the Texas court decision that reinstated this policy, rather than move forward with its implementation. The Biden Administration must issue a new memorandum terminating Remain in Mexico and continue to fight this harmful policy that puts migrants and asylum seekers in grave danger and denies them access to a fair due process in the United States.”

 

“It’s disheartening, to say the least, to go backwards when it comes to saving lives. Remain in Mexico has been a humanitarian disaster and did nothing but cause chaos and disorder in Northern Mexico while keeping asylum seekers from seeking safety with the support of lawyers and others ready to help them here in the U.S.,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ senior vice president for public affairs. “We urge the Biden Administration to take a pragmatic and humane approach to the border, which does not include barring asylum seekers.”

 

“There is no way to improve a program designed to deny families safety and justice,” said Carmen Maria Rey, U.S. Legal Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “MPP was defined by an epidemic of extortion, violence, and murder against asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico, and it is unconscionable that the Biden administration plans to re-implement one of the most harmful immigration policies of the previous administration. The Biden administration must immediately issue a new memo to terminate MPP and restore full access to the asylum system at the border.” 

 

“The Biden administration knows that there is no safe, humane, or lawful way to implement MPP or any similar policy,” said Ursela Ojeda, senior policy advisor of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “It is shameful and unacceptable for the administration to continue to delay issuing a new termination memo and to use the court order as an excuse to implement a new version of this awful and dangerous policy. The Biden administration promised it would do better than the cruel and unjust policies of its predecessor. Yet nearly ten months into this administration, President Biden’s border policies perpetuate harm and injustice on those lawfully seeking protection in the United States. Policies like MPP and expulsions under Title 42 are, by intentional design, racist and xenophobic and are fundamentally incompatible with due process and dignity. MPP must not re-start. Expulsions of families and adults under Title 42 must end. And more broadly, the administration must truly restart asylum processing, including at ports of entry, and create a process that upholds our laws and our values, and welcomes with dignity. We won’t accept anything less.” 

 

“You cannot make an inhumane  program humane, you cannot make an unfair program fair, you cannot breathe life into a deadly program, you cannot make a program that disrespects the dignity of people respectful, you cannot welcome people with closed doors,” said Thomas Cartwright of the Leadership Table of Witness at the Border. “ Title 42 is an abhorrent Trump policy that must end and Trump’s MPP must not be reinstated. Keeping promises means not breaking promises. It is long past time for the Biden Administration to live up to their promises.”

 

“It is unacceptable that the Biden administration is choosing to re-implement this inhumane Trump-era policy,” said Chelsea Sachau, an attorney with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “The Biden campaign ran on the promise of restoring a safe, orderly asylum system, and MPP couldn’t be further from that. Moreover, in March, President Biden himself acknowledged that MPP had an ‘incredibly negative impact on the law, international law, as well as on human dignity.’ To now pretend that there is any way in which his administration can reform and revamp such a disastrous and deadly program is disingenuous. The Biden administration has had multiple opportunities to make good on its promises to build back a better asylum system; today’s announcement shows they are choosing once again to place politics over human lives and dignity. We demand better.”   

 

“It is appalling that the Biden Administration is considering restarting the MPP policy,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Co-director, Latin America Working Group. “This will mean even more human rights violations and suffering for people arriving at our border. There is no safe, humane, or lawful way to implement this policy. We have seen the results before. This is not restoring access to asylum. Far from it—the Biden Administration is making a conscious choice to re-implement a Trump era policy and ramping up Title 42 expulsions to send people back to harm, when it could be issuing a termination memo for MPP and restoring a humane way to process people at the border. Until then, it is just continuing Trump-era policies and denying access to protection for thousands seeking safety in violation of international law and breaking promises.”

 

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