Witness at the Border | MPP 2.0: Can Inhumane be Less Inhumane?

December 21, 2021

Join us to unpack the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, or Remain in Mexico), its impact on human lives, and the convoluted litigation surrounding the push-me-pull-you place we currently find ourselves stuck in as a nation responsible for trapping people between the rock that is endemic violence and crippling poverty at home, and the hard place that is the unwelcoming US border. Guests Charlene D’Cruz of Lawyers For Good Government’s Proyecto Corazon, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council, and Yael Schacher of Refugees International will help to educate us as well as to ignite the outrage of a US public for whom the reinstatement of a shadowy Trump-era border policy may never have been top of mind.

President Biden pledged to end MPP, one of the most inhumane immigration policies in US history, which forced more than 70,000 of the world’s most vulnerable people to wait out the adjudication of their asylum claims in some of the most dangerous places on earth. He halted the policy by executive order on Day 1. His immigration team, with the aid of borderlands NGOs, subsequently processed roughly 25,000 Trump-era MPP enrollees.

But an unprecedented agreement, signed in the final minutes of the Trump administration, demanded that the new administration must consult with the Texas legislature prior to any changes in border policies. This led to an injunction, decided by the district court of Northern Texas, that basically halts President Biden’s halt of MPP. Then, both the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals as well as the Supreme Court declined to “stay” the injunction, or halt the halt.

Now the administration is making preparations to reinstate MPP, scouting locations and resurrecting resources, to stand up tent-city refugee encampments to serve the future dispossessed. Meanwhile, once natural Biden allies, like the NGO reps that “walked out” of a virtual meeting with the administration in October, prefer not to be complicit in a program that Amnesty International and Human Rights First have condemned as a “crime against humanity.”

The relaunch of the policy remains contingent on the Mexican government agreeing to take immigrants sent back by an unwelcoming USA. Texas lawmakers can bang their gavels all they want, but Mexico is under no obligation to green-light an MPP redux.

Is MPP restarting? Or isn’t it? Can SCOTUS really force the hand of a sitting US president, especially when it comes to enforcing an immigration strategy it previously deemed illegal? Did Mexico buy into the program under Trump, or did the former administration strong-arm its Southern neighbor? Is Biden now following in the former guy’s footsteps?

Can there be an MPP “lite”? Can we make inhumane less inhumane, and unfair less unfair?