Advocates urge Mexico to shut door on reinstatement of ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

Border Report

Return to Trump-era policy is humanitarian disaster waiting to happen, as COVID pandemic continues and cartels now knee-deep in migrant trafficking, groups warn

A mother sits as children take part in class at “The Sidewalk School” for immigrant children at a camp for asylum seekers on December 8, 2019 in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a lower court ruling ordering the Biden administration to send asylum-seekers back to Mexico, international advocates called on the Mexican government to shut the door on its end.

“As a sovereign nation, Mexico has the right to reject the reinstatement of (the Migrant Protection Protocols) program or any future iteration of this policy that aims to externalize the U.S. border into Mexican territory,” says a letter sent Wednesday to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on behalf of 74 international advocacy organizations.

The groups said reinstating MPP, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” would exacerbate the danger international citizens already face on their journey to the United States. This includes robbery, extortion, kidnapping and rape.

“It is impossible to implement MPP in a way that upholds human rights and due process, and Mexico has the responsibility to block this detrimental policy,” the letter to Lopez Obrador says.

On Aug. 13, U.S. Federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered a permanent reinstatement of President Trump’s MPP policy requiring asylum-seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico. President Biden stopped the practice upon taking office and thousands of asylum-seekers have been allowed to come across the border since.

The Supreme Court late Tuesday said the Biden administration must comply with the judge’s ruling to reinstate the MPP program.

The nonprofits argue, however, that the program hinges in its entirety on cooperation from the Mexican government. If Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, says “no,” the issue becomes moot.

“The ball is almost entirely on AMLO’s court,” said Daniel Berlin, deputy director of Asylum Access Mexico, one of the groups signing the letter to Lopez Obrador. “Even if there’s an order to reinstate MPP, it would be entirely up to Mexico to decide if that happens.”

The Mexican government in 2019 largely yielded to Trump demands aimed at stymying the surge of migrants coming across from Central America. Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico if it failed to stop the caravans and take back third-country migrants.

Trump is out of the picture now, but Mexico is still to take a formal position on MPP despite worsening conditions at the border, advocates allege.

“Things are worse. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. To restart MPP amid a rise in the Delta variant while we’re still having thousands and thousands of people sent back under Title 42 would create a huge humanitarian and health crisis,” Berlin said.

He added that the crime situation deteriorated as well once the drug cartels realized money could be made from migrant trafficking. “They constructed revenue streams around kidnapping and extortion of people being sent back” from the United States, he said. “I’m fairly confident those would be reinvigorated with MPP.”

Berlin said he and other advocates hope the Mexican government acts after reading the letter, asserting its sovereignty, implementing, and refining its own migration policy. Mexico itself is on pace to receive up to 100,000 international citizens seeking asylum in its territory this year, he said.

Other groups signing the letter to Lopez Obrador include Oxfam Mexico, Guatemalan Migrant Jesuit Network, Refugees International, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Human Rights First, Unified U.S. Deported Veterans Resource Center and others.

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