FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2021
Advocates & Experts Denounce MPP Program Expansion
Washington –Today, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign held a press call with individuals who were subjected to the first iteration of MPP, litigants in the court case against the policy, and human rights experts denouncing the administration’s decision to disregard the human cost the program has already had and further expand it to new populations. The call was held as the consensus against the expansion of MPP continues to grow.
The union representing USCIS asylum officers condemned the re-implementation of the program in a public statement that said in part: “our Union calls on the Biden Administration, Congress, and the courts to denounce MPP as inconsistent with federal law and U.S. treaty obligations and to do everything in their power to end this fatally deficient, abhorrent program once and for all.”
“Reimplementing MPP, while knowing that it does not truly bring solutions and puts people sent to Mexico under MPP at risk of crimes and limbo, is completely inhuman and senseless.” Said Estuardo Cifuentes, Client Services Manager, Project Corazon, Lawyers for Good Government / Rainbow Bridge . Cifuentes is currently in MPP and paroled into the US as an open case.
“My colleagues and I spent years documenting and cataloging the terrible litany of human suffering caused by Remain in Mexico – over 1,500 reported incidents of murder, rape, torture, and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers returned to Mexico under this inhumane policy,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director for research and analysis on refugee protection at Human Rights First. “We fear that under the Biden administration’s renewed and expanded Remain in Mexico policy there will be yet more kidnappings, more rapes, more unexcusable violence against the families, adults and children trying to seek safety in the United States.”
“There is no protection under the Remain in Mexico policy. There is only persecution of people looking for safety. MPP was unacceptable under Trump, and it is unacceptable under Biden,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “Instead of working to fulfill their campaign promise of an orderly, safe, and humane immigration system, the Biden-Harris Administration chose to expand the cruel Trump MPP policy to include all countries in the Western Hemisphere.” Despite Mexico’s request for humanitarian improvements as conditions of agreeing to accept enrollees, including guarantees that asylum seekers have access to legal counsel, it’s expected that as always, Black asylum seekers enrolled in MPP will experience further racism, abuse, denial of due process, and continuous neglect. Immigration is a Black issue and it is beyond time for the Biden-Harris Administration to restore asylum rights, in accordance with U.S. and international law.”
“The Biden administration has made a deliberate choice to expand the Remain in Mexico program to apply to nationals of any country in the Western Hemisphere, including nationals of Haiti, Jamaica, and Brazil, among others—despite knowing that Black asylum seekers are particularly at risk of violence in Mexican border areas,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center. “The courts did not force this; this is anti-Blackness. For the first time, we will see the combined effect of a policy of Title 42 and Remain in Mexico. The result is a total asylum shutdown under a President who pledged to end MPP and restore a welcoming asylum system. President Biden: Follow through on your promises: restore asylum; honor our moral and legal commitments to those seeking safety. Take all the steps necessary to make that your legacy instead.”
“This administration says that it is in a battle for the soul of America – that’s true at the border as well. How the administration chooses to meet this moment – that is how it chooses to respond to the arrival of families and people seeking safety in our country– will define its legacy,” said Ursela Ojeda, senior policy advisor of Women’s Refugee Commission. “Will we meet migrant families and individuals with cruelty and deterrence or will we meet them with humanity and due process? From the perspective of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign we urge in the strongest possible terms for the administration to change course from continuing and expanding the harmful policies of its predecessor. It must focus on restoring access to a safe, just, and humane asylum process, one that welcomes with dignity rather than blocking, expelling, or subjecting those seeking safety to harm.”
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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 90 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org