FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2022
Remain in Mexico Ends – A Step Towards Restoring Asylum
Washington – Yesterday a district court lifted the order that had prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy. The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign applauds DHS’s swift announcement that it will immediately halt new enrollments in the program and bring individuals subjected to the court-ordered reimplementation of the policy into the United States to continue their asylum process with the support of their families and communities.
Asylum seekers forced to Remain in Mexico under the deadly Trump-era policy have been stranded in dangerous and life-threatening conditions, where they have faced kidnapping, violence, and homelessness. Like other anti-asylum policies, Remain in Mexico has had a devastating human toll, with disparate impacts on Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. The policy is an affront to our ideals and a humanitarian and due process disaster.
Leading immigrant and refugee rights organizations have outlined immediate actions the Biden administration should take to bring people subjected to Remain in Mexico to safety and previously provided recommendations on expanding the initial wind down to ensure that people subjected to the policy under the Trump administration are not left behind.
Even after a resounding loss at the Supreme Court, the states of Texas and Missouri have redoubled their attempts to preserve Remain in Mexico, filing an amended complaint challenging the second DHS memo terminating the policy on Monday night. We urge the administration to continue to fight any effort to force the reimplementation of the Remain in Mexico policy, which DHS again described yesterday as having “endemic flaws” and “impos[ing] unjustifiable human costs”.
“The International Rescue Committee welcomes the news that MPP will finally come to an end. Restrictive and inhumane border policies only fuel the further exploitation of those in desperate need of safety. We call on the Biden Administration to continue working, alongside organizations at the border, to take all necessary actions to end policies that have harmed asylum seekers by returning them to danger, separating families, and denying them their dignity and humanity,” said Olga Byrne, Director, Asylum and Immigration Legal Services at the International Rescue Committee.
“The Department of Homeland Security is rightly taking steps to end this fatally flawed policy,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “From its inception, Remain in Mexico has inflicted suffering on people seeking asylum, impeded legal representation, and wasted government resources. This humanitarian fiasco should be ended as quickly as possible. Any attempt to force the continuation of this failed policy must be rejected for what it is: irresponsible political theater that endangers the lives of people seeking refuge.”
Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), said: “We appreciate the Biden Administration’s decision to finally begin winding down the cruel “Remain in Mexico” policy, following recent court decisions, which prevented people fleeing persecution and torture from exercising their right to seek asylum in the United States. This is a late, but important step towards undoing the harms of the previous administration. However, without restoring full access to asylum, including by ending Title 42, asylum seekers will continue to be forced into inhumane, and often deadly, situations.”
“Since its inception, Remain in Mexico (RMX) has put thousands of migrants in danger. For too long, asylum seekers have been isolated from attorneys and cut off from due process, sent to areas where their safety cannot be guaranteed leaving them vulnerable to kidnapping, torture, and extortion,” said Crystal Sandoval, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and Co-Director of Las Americas Mexico. “Ending RMX means that these individuals will have support from organizations like Las Americas to safely seek asylum. This is an opportunity for Biden’s administration to work closely with organizations on the ground to ensure that migration happens with humanity and due process. Our team is prepared to do what it takes to ensure the safety of families, children, and adults.”
“We are glad the Biden administration is taking steps to end Remain in Mexico and bring those subjected to the policy to safety,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. “For over three years, the Remain in Mexico policy has trampled on the rights of people seeking asylum and exposed them to grave harm. The Biden administration must now ensure that all those who have suffered so grievously under the policy have a fair and meaningful opportunity to pursue their legal claims safely and with the support of their family and communities in the United States. This should include not only individuals with pending cases, but also those left behind in the administration’s first attempt to wind down Remain in Mexico last year, as well as those wrongly denied protection as a result of the policy’s fundamental flaws. And as anti-immigrant politicians redouble their efforts to preserve Remain in Mexico, the Biden administration must continue to vigorously defend its decision to end the policy.”
“The courts have spoken, now the Biden Administration must act to end the Remain in Mexico policy once and for all,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Co-director of the Latin America Working Group (LAWG). “For over two years, advocates have fought to end this policy because of the danger and death it caused migrants waiting in Mexico. The suffering should end now. The Biden Administration should quickly coordinate with civil society organizations on both sides of the border to process those still in Mexico and let them claim asylum from within the United States and in the safety of their family and friends.”
Joanna Williams, Executive Director at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), said: “My mind and heart are full of the faces and voices of so many individuals and families who we have accompanied in these last three years after they were subject to MPP. I’m relieved to know that, thanks in part to their advocacy, no one else will suffer anew in this program. In this critical moment, we recommit to working towards humane and just policy for all asylum seekers at the border, including those currently stranded by Title 42.”
“The error and era of Remain in Mexico must conclude. It is time to end the harm: the threats, kidnappings, assaults, rapes, and deaths. The policy decision by the Administration has been vindicated and affirmed by the courts. The Department of Homeland Security must quickly establish normal, humane processing of asylum requests at the southern border,” said Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice. “As Unitarian Universalists, our principles call us to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This means we take pleas for relief or asylum seriously and treat our fellow human beings with dignity. It’s time to stop excusing vitriolic anti-immigrant sentiment with wrongheaded policies like MPP and Title 42. It is time to stop sending people to dangerous settings mendaciously pretending it’s on reasonable grounds backed by sound policy.”
“We’re pleased that the U.S. has stopped placing migrants in the Remain-in-Mexico (MPP) program and will begin to disenroll those currently in MPP. Allowing individuals to seek asylum within the U.S. is an important first step, and, we now call on the Biden Administration to fully restore access to asylum for all who seek it,” said Priscilla Orta, Supervising Attorney for Lawyers for Good Government’s Project Corazon in Brownsville, Texas. “Seeking asylum is a human right, and a legal one at that. We must all continue to fight for a more just and welcoming immigration system.”
Raha Wala, deputy director for legislative advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center, said: “The courts have spoken, and we applaud the Biden administration for halting all new enrollments into the disastrous Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy that slammed the door on thousands of people seeking safety and subjected them to grave danger. Now, we urge the Biden administration to take additional action to ensure every person harmed by this policy can fairly and expeditiously pursue their asylum claim from within the United States.”
“For too many years, our government has put children at risk by forcing vulnerable asylum seekers to return to Mexico, and it took a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court to undo this harmful policy,” said Christy Gleason, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children. “We welcome DHS’s announcement on the wind down of the Remain in Mexico program, but we urge them to take immediate action to ensure that no more children are denied their right to safety and protection. Every day of delay is another day our government leaves kids and families living in danger.”
“Today we say a long-deserved goodbye to Remain in Mexico,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director, Hope Border Institute. “Now it is time for us to send Title 42 to the same dustbin and begin to rebuild a safe, welcoming and humane system of protection for every vulnerable person on the mover at the border.”
“The Biden administration took the right action when it originally moved to end Remain in Mexico– and now it has an opportunity to do so swiftly and justly,” said Erin Mazursky, Interim Managing Director of Families Belong Together. “From this day on, no one should be enrolled in Remain in Mexico. We are looking to the Biden administration to pave the path forward for families and individuals fleeing danger and violence, allowing all who have been in Remain in Mexico to safely pursue asylum claims in the United States. We look forward to the Biden administration’s guidance and hope they will act with the urgency that families seeking safety deserve.”
“We are relieved to see that the Biden administration is finally going to keep its promise and put an end to the harmful ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy,” said Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director for Refugee Congress. There is no time to waste, though. The administration must take immediate steps to provide each and every person that was denied their right to claim asylum a new opportunity to do so, and to protect this right from any future attempts to deny asylum seekers access to safety. Our communities are strong because of our commitment to welcome and inclusion, and that begins at our border.
“The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds the Biden administration’s decision to finally end the cruel, Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “For years, the Women’s Refugee Commission and others have documented the harm and risks experienced by those forced to return to danger under the policy. The Biden administration itself rightfully denounced the horrors of the program. We now urge the administration to swiftly and safely return those still trapped in Mexico to the United States, and to ensure they can pursue their asylum claims with dignity and with the support of their families and communities.”
The Welcome with Dignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 national and regional 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