DHS formally rescinds 'remain in Mexico' policy for migrants seeking asylum

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has formally terminated the Migrant Protection Policy (MPP), also known as the "remain in Mexico" policy, first enacted in 2019 by the Trump administration.

DHS in January suspended all new MPP enrollments.


"I have determined that MPP does not adequately or sustainably enhance border management in such a way as to justify the program's extensive operational burdens and other shortfalls," Mayorkas wrote in a memo addressed to the acting ICE director. "During the course of the program, border encounters increased during certain periods and decreased during others. Moreover, in making my assessment, I share the belief that we can only manage migration in an effective, responsible, and durable manner if we approach the issue comprehensively, looking well beyond our own borders."

Mayorkas said MPP was intended to expedite the backlog of cases but ultimately the speed in which migrants were removed did not match the conditions they were facing on the Mexican side of the border.

He said the policy caused a strain on resources.

"MPP was also intended to reduce burdens on border security personnel and resources, but over time the program imposed additional responsibilities that detracted from the Department's critically important mission sets," he said.


Mayorkas writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated MPP cases because most immigration courts have been closed due to the pandemic.

He said DHS is considering ways "to implement long-needed reforms to our asylum system that are designed to shorten the amount of time it takes for migrants, including those seeking asylum, to have their cases adjudicated, while still ensuring adequate procedural safeguards and increasing access to counsel."

Mayorkas continues to say that he is looking at different ways the administration can control the flow of migrants across the southern border.

"MPP is no longer a necessary or viable tool for the Department," he said. "Because my decision is informed by my assessment that MPP is not the best strategy for implementing the goals and objectives of the Biden-Harris Administration, I have no intention to resume MPP in any manner similar to the program as outlined in the January 25, 2019 Memorandum and supplemental guidance."
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