Biden Admin’s Migrant ‘Remain in Mexico’ Restart Lags at Border

US Vice President Kamala Harris (2nd-L) tours the El Paso Border Patrol Station, on June 25, 2021 in El Paso, Texas. - Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling in El Paso, Texas on Friday, where she will tour a Customs and Border Protection processing facility, meeting with advocates and NGOs. …
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security’s restart of the Trump era Remain in Mexico Program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), is returning an average of 10 migrants per day. Enforcement is set to expand from the El Paso and San Diego Sectors to the Rio Grande Valley in short order.

The program was first implemented in 2019 and required migrant asylum applicants from Western Hemisphere countries to spend the asylum process in Mexico. According to Customs and Border Protection, more than 70,000 were affected during the Trump years.

The program was suspended in January 2021. The States of Texas and Missouri filed a lawsuit in response in April. In June, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memorandum permanently terminating the program. In August, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas determined that the memo was not issued in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and ordered a restart as the litigation continues.

To comply with the court order, Mayorkas resumed the policy in two sectors, El Paso and San Diego. Statistics show the effort at reaching compliance with the court order may not involve as much good faith as the court expects.

During the first weeks of implementation in December 2021, 267 migrants were enrolled in the MPP. The migrants were typically citizens of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador. More than 53,000 migrants from those countries were arrested during the month.

Of the nearly 25,000 Venezuelan migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol in December 2021, only 59 were returned in the month.

The numbers are in sharp contrast to program enrollment under the previous administration. In December 2020, 7,317 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Ecuador were arrested by the Border Patrol. Of that total, 20 percent were returned under MPP. The majority of those not placed into that program were removed under other protocols also cancelled by the Biden Administration.

In October, Secretary Mayorkas doubled down on his effort to permanently terminate the program once the litigation concludes. In the latest memorandum announcing his intentions, Mayorkas cites concerns about migrant safety:

After carefully considering the arguments, evidence, and perspectives presented by those who support re-implementation of MPP, those who support terminating the program, and those who have argued for continuing MPP in a modified form, I have determined that MPP should be terminated.

In reaching this conclusion, I recognize that MPP likely contributed to reduced migratory flows. But it did so by imposing substantial and unjustifiable human costs on the individuals who were exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico.

The slow restart is not sitting well with the rank-and-file Border Patrol agents.

Chris Cabrera, an agent in the Rio Grande Valley and Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, told Breitbart Texas the administration is dragging its feet with a full restart.

“Here, we have a proven program that greatly reduced illegal crossings and the administration is acting like it is something new and needs a pilot program … Everyone can see through this stalling tactic while they work to have the program shut down,” Cabrera says.

“Meanwhile, thousands are pouring into the country daily, with little if any threat of being expelled,” he added.

Customs and Border Protection has not responded to a request for information regarding the program as of press time.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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