White House one-on-one: The end of ‘remain in Mexico’

El Paso News

Photo by Justin Hamel

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Biden Administration is fulfilling its vow to abrogate dysfunctional immigration policies.

On Tuesday, the administration announced the official end to former President Trump’s Migration Protection Protocols, or “remain in Mexico” policy, that forced tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico until their claims were heard. 

MPP failed to alleviate strain on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with recidivism rate of more than 25 percent of migrants who were returned to Mexico.

KTSM 9 News spoke one-on-one with White House immigration adviser Vedant Patel on what it means for the Borderland. 

KTSM

Well, thank you so much for your time, as always. I was hoping you could talk about the rollback of MPP and how it’s going to impact border communities, especially El Paso.

Vedant Patel

Thanks so much for your questions. President Biden and our administration have been very clear that MPP — or more commonly known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ — really led to a great humanitarian disaster on the northern border of Mexico. So, it was inefficient, it really didn’t handle our border properly.

And so on January 20th, when President Biden was inaugurated, MPP was paused and shortly thereafter on February 2nd, an executive order was signed to review the program. And then earlier this week, Sec. Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined that it was no longer an effective program to properly and adequately manage and secure our borders.

And so we’re seeing that step being taken this week.

Going forward, I think you’re going to see the government rollout additional steps to create and build a more orderly immigration system. You’ve already seen us begin to process individuals who were in MPP. As we’ve winded down that program, we saw that happen in phase 1, and we continue to work with our interagency partners and other stakeholders to figure out how to expand that pool and continue to process those who had remained in the program at the end of the previous administration. 

KTSM

I was reading through Senator Cornyn’s bipartisan border bill, and about how they’re trying to work with the administration. Can you talk a little bit about that bill?

VP

The President is eager and willing to work with any member of Congress — any House member or Senator from either chamber — to bring about real solutions to our immigration system and bring it into the 21st century.

In President Biden’s immigration bill, there’s a lot in there that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Smarter investments in border security that’s going to bring our border to the 21st century and really upscale. Retrofit our ports of entry, modernize them. So there’s a lot that there is to agree upon. 

President Biden is hoping to get a bill on his desk that Democrats and Republicans can agree on and bring about the much needed reforms to our immigration system. 

KTSM

That’s such good news, and it’s just been so wonderful down here to see how much progress has been made within the last six months since President Biden took office. What sort of benchmarks or what sort of progress do you hope to see within the next six months?

VP

I don’t think it’s about specific benchmarks, Erin. It’s about taking steps to build a fair and orderly immigration system. I think what we saw at the beginning of this administration was the remnants of four years of chaos and cruelty of an immigration system that wasn’t rooted in enforcing our immigration laws. It wasn’t rooted in understanding that we’re a nation of immigrants, and so I think that President Biden and our administration, we’re going to chart a new path rooted in lawfulness, fair and orderly, and rooted in humanity. And you’ve seen us take those steps.

We began to wind down the MPP program, we launched the Central American minors program, and we’ve taken additional steps to slowly get back our asylum processing quota to what it once was. We believe in a fair and orderly immigration system, and that is what is going to be the cornerstone of this administration’s trajectory. 

KTSM

Last question, what’s your message to people of the Borderland today?

VP

I think our message is again that we want to take steps to instill a fair and orderly immigration system and that’s what you’re going to see this administration do. We understand that we are a nation of immigrants but we’re also a nation that’s going to enforce our immigration laws. And that’s going to be our vision when it comes to immigration reform. 

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