Washington DC – A rights organization stated that since the beginning of December, more than 200 immigrants and refugees who wish to apply for asylum in the United States have been sent back to Mexico to wait for their court hearings in the United States. This is a widely condemned Trump era. Immigration policy.
President Joe Biden’s government tried to terminate the Migration Protection Agreement (MPP), saying that the plan exposed immigrants and refugees to Unnecessary danger in Mexico.
But a court in Texas ordered the policy-also known as Stay in Mexico -After suing the Biden administration in Missouri and Texas, it was restarted in August, claiming that the Biden administration terminated the policy without following proper procedures.
In early December, the Biden administration resumed the plan and made some changes in accordance with the court’s decision. At the same time, it has asked the Supreme Court to allow it to terminate the MPP.
However, experts say that the country’s Supreme Court is not expected to make a decision before the end of June. At the same time, according to the immigration advocates’ “Remain in Mexico 2.0”, asylum seekers can return to Mexico.
Here, Al Jazeera checks what is happening:
What is the “Remain in Mexico” program?
Former President Donald Trump, who made immigration restrictions one of his main policy goals, created the MPP to prevent immigrants and refugees from making asylum applications that he considered “boring”.
The policy took effect last year January 2019, Forcing people who reach the border to seek asylum in Mexico to wait for their U.S. immigration court hearings for months or even years.
As a result of this policy, approximately 70,000 people, including children, are forced to wait in Mexican border towns, which are usually in dangerous and unsanitary refugee camps. They also have limited access to legal counsel.
MPP was severely criticized by the United States and international human rights organizations, claiming that it violated the obligations of the U.S. government under domestic and international laws.
What did President Joe Biden do?
Biden fulfilled his campaign promises, suspending new registrations for the program on January 20, his first day in office-effectively suspending MPP.
In the next few months, his government began Relaxation policy People who are still waiting in Mexico are allowed to enter the United States to continue their asylum applications.Starting in February, more than 25,000 people Was released on parole to the United States.
Then, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas (Alejandro Mayorkas) June 2021 This policy is officially terminated.
What happened then?
In August, Trump-appointed judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled in favor of two Republican-led states that “arbitrarily” terminated the MPP and sued the Biden administration. Kacsmaryk ordered the government to restore the policy.
The Biden administration appealed the decision U.S. Supreme Court, But it refused to block the Texas court’s ruling.
So what does this mean for MPP?
The Biden administration stated that it will abide by the order of the Texas court, but will continue to work hard to end the policy. It later stated that this would make MPP more “humane.”
Majorcas release Second memo The MPP was terminated in October 2021, and the MPP resolved the issues raised by the prosecuting state. In a 39-page explanation, Majorcas said that although MPP helps reduce migrants and refugees arriving at the border, it unnecessarily puts people at risk while waiting in Mexico.
“MPP has widespread deficiencies, imposes unreasonable labor costs, separates resources and personnel from other priority tasks, and does not address the root causes of irregular immigration,” Mayorkas said.
So when will “Stay in Mexico 2.0” take effect?
The policy went into effect on December 6, and the first two immigrants December 8.
Is this new iteration of the policy different from the previous one?
The Biden administration promised to provide more advisory services to asylum seekers—according to the Immigration Policy Institute, only 9% of MPP registrants can contact lawyers based on the previous version of MPP—and the case will be closed within 180 days.
Mexico also requires “particularly vulnerable people”, including people with mental and physical disabilities, the elderly, the sick, and LGBTQ people, to be exempt from the program.
Have these promises been fulfilled?
Immigration advocates say no. Yael Schacher, Deputy Director of Refugee International America and Europe Affairs, attended the first two days of the MPP hearing held in El Paso, Texas on January 3 and 4. Shah told the non-profit media organization El Paso Matters that only 5 of the 82 people participating in the MPP at the time were able to get help from legal counsel.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy adviser to the U.S. Immigration Commission, also stated that “the problem of obtaining an adviser still exists.”
He told Al Jazeera that the Biden administration “cannot solve a fundamental problem, that is, those trapped in northern Mexico with almost no resources and almost no sense of security will find it difficult to find American lawyers to help them with asylum cases.”
How many people are sent to Mexico under the new MPP?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated in an email statement to Al Jazeera that it would not state how many people were deported, or at which border crossing points.
However, according to data collected by the US human rights organization “Human Rights First” coordinated with Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration (INM), between December 8 and January 4, according to the latest version of the MPP, there were 217 men traveling alone The adults return to Mexico.
More than half (135 people) were from Nicaragua and 46 were from Venezuela. Others repatriated under the MPP came from Cuba, Ecuador and Colombia.
It has been a month since the Biden administrator restarted his stay in Mexico (MPP). The Department of Homeland Security has repatriated 217 immigrants and asylum-seekers from Nicaragua (62%), Venezuela (22%), Cuba (7%), Ecuador (6%) and Colombia (3%) under the plan, while still Using Article 42 to expel others. @Human rights first pic.twitter.com/aTHfHKyGR6
— Julia Neusner (@JuliaNeusner) January 4, 2022
How does the removal process work?
According to the new policy, immigrants and refugees are temporarily held in DHS facilities until they are interviewed by asylum officials, who will assess their “reasonable” fear of returning to Mexico-called non-refoulement interviews.
If they are deemed “safe” to return to Mexico, they will be driven across the border. MPP is currently being applied at two border crossings: El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California. The plan is expected to be expanded to include five additional ports of entry.
After arriving in Mexico, INM officials are responsible for taking them to a facility funded by the Mexican government, where they will stay until the next U.S. court hearing. Mexican officials have been driving MPP applicants to and from the border.
What do rights groups think about this process?
Human rights groups say that non-refoulement interviews are problematic because asylum seekers do not fully understand their purpose and impact.
“Many people don’t know that they have the right to talk to lawyers before accepting non-refoulement interviews and talk about their fear of returning to Mexico,” said Julia Neusner, a refugee protection lawyer who is human rights first, who has been following MPP’s progress.
Neusner told Al Jazeera: “People don’t understand the purpose of the interview, so those who have reason to fear being sent back to Mexico will be sent back under the plan,” he added, adding that several had been kidnapped or blackmailed before. The applicant was enrolled in the program by the Mexican police.
Are there any differences in the new policy?
In the original plan, the MPP relocation only included nationals from Spanish-speaking countries and Brazilians.
The new MPP has been expanded to include all Western Hemisphere nationals, excluding Mexico. This means that Haitians and immigrants and refugees from other Caribbean countries can now be placed in the MPP. A Texas court order does not require this extension.
Is it safe for people to be sent to Mexico?
In the first iteration of MPP, until February 2021, Human Rights First stated that at least 1,544 immigrants and refugees were killed, attacked, robbed, kidnapped, or raped in Mexico in the program. Many people completely abandoned their asylum applications.
Human rights organization says Security Question The immigration and refugee issues have not yet been resolved.
In a recent virtual briefing, Kenji Kizuka, deputy director of research and analysis for refugee protection, Human Rights One, said: “There is no imaginary way to make staying in Mexico safe and humane, let alone legal.”
“Given these inherent dangers, it is inevitable that there will be more reports of kidnappings and assaults of people returning in accordance with the latest policy.”