Biden Administration Dragging Out ‘Remain in Mexico’ Revival 

John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s administration is sending many fewer migrants back to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program than did former President Donald Trump.

The MPP is a Trump-era immigration policy that requires migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings. Biden suspended the MPP on his first day in office, and then his Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, issued a memo terminating the policy last June.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in December upheld a lower court’s order that required Biden to reimplement the MPP “in good faith.”

Biden began reenrolling migrants into the MPP in December after negotiating with Mexican government officials. Although the court did not set quotas to determine what a “good faith” reimplementation looks like, Biden is enrolling migrants at a sharply decreased rate from that of former President Trump.

The DHS has sent approximately 410 MPP enrollees back to Mexico since the program began again in December. In contrast, Trump’s administration sent roughly 300 to 400 migrants back daily in the summer of 2019.

Migrant enrollment in the MPP has declined since the December revival. During the first month, Biden enrolled 267 migrants in the program. In January, Biden only sent about 140 migrants back to Mexico, according to the most recent U.N. data.

Biden’s MPP enrollment numbers are low even though arrests at the border are higher now than they were in 2019.

Republican officials are outraged at the low enrollment level into the revived MPP. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sued the president when he suspended the program, blasted Biden on Twitter.

Paxton wrote:

Outrageous. I secured a win in district court that compels Biden to reimplement Remain-in-Mexico. Then I won again when the feds appealed. Biden MUST use MPP to send illegals back to Mexico. He’s violating the Court’s order, and I won’t let it stand.

“The federal taxpayers are paying millions of dollars for a decorative item so the Biden administration can tell the courts we’re implementing MPP but not actually doing it,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) recently told reporters.

Biden is almost exclusively enrolling men from Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba in the program. Mexican government officials are reportedly limiting the number of migrants the U.S. government can send back.

“We are subject to Mexico’s requirements in terms of the restrictions they place on individuals subject to returns, and we just got hit with the omicron variant, which has had a substantial impact on our ability to return people,” a DHS official said.

In addition to slowly dragging out the program’s revival, Biden added additional safeguards for potential enrollees. For example, federal officials now ask migrants whether they “fear a return to Mexico.” Roughly 90 percent of migrants say they do fear harm in Mexico, and about 15 percent are found to face a “reasonable possibility” of harm, the Washington Post reported.

So far, Biden has only reimplemented the MPP in San Diego, California; Brownsville, Texas; and El Paso, Texas. The DHS emphasized that they are “committed to abiding by the court-mandated reimplementation of MPP in the most humane way possible,” according to a spokesperson.

The case is Texas v. Biden, No. 21-10806 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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