U.S. Appeals Court Upholds “Remain in Mexico” Policy

remain in Mexico policy

On December 14, 2021, a U.S. appeals court rejected the Biden administration’s attempt to terminate the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP)—also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy—that forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait in Mexico for months or even years to have their asylum cases heard in U.S. immigration courts.

Shortly after taking office in January, President Joe Biden ended the Trump-era program to fulfill a campaign promise. However, Texas and Missouri filed a lawsuit against the move and a federal judge ordered the administration to reinstate MMP.

On December 2, the U.S. reached an agreement with the Mexican government to revive the policy. Many migrants waiting in Mexico lived in overcrowded shelters or run-down encampments and faced gang violence, kidnappings, rapes, and even murders.

The Biden administration re-issued a memo to end the “Remain in Mexico” program in hopes of overcoming the legal challenges. But the new memo did not convince the conservative-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

To comply with the court ruling, the administration started sending the first asylum seekers back to Mexico last week. In addition, Biden expanded the MMP by covering all other citizens of countries in the Western Hemisphere (including Haiti), rather than only Spanish speaking countries.

The administration’s goal is to complete all cases within a six-month period after a migrant has returned to Mexico. The Justice Department has recently assigned 22 immigration judges to oversee the MMP restart to make sure cases are quickly processed in order to comply with the 180-day time frame.

The U.S. and Mexican government have promised to provide migrants with safe transportation to and from U.S. ports of entry, health care, work permits, and other services, such as COVID-19 vaccinations. Border agents will be tasked to interview migrants—who are allowed to consult with a lawyer before the interview—to determine if they can potentially face danger in Mexico before returning them under the policy.

In 2021 alone, there has been a record high in the number of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet, many migrants are quickly expelled without having the opportunity to seek asylum under Title 42, a Trump policy that was put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Biden continues to enforce.

If you or a loved one is interested in filing for asylum in North Texas, call our Coppell immigration attorney at Nathan Christensen P.C. at (972) 497-1017 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule an initial consultation. Se habla español!

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