Migrants, activists wary after ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy reinstated

By Carlos Zuñiga

Tijuana, Mexico, Aug 26 (EFE).- A United States Supreme Court ruling requiring the reinstatement of the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols program has sparked concerns among migrants stranded on the Mexican side of the border and immigration rights activists, who fear that shelters and social services in Mexico’s border region will become overwhelmed.

In a 6-3 ruling on Tuesday, the high court refused to block a lower-court decision in Texas that required President Joe Biden’s administration to enforce that policy commonly known “Remain in Mexico,” which Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security implemented in 2019.

Biden halted new enrollments in the MPP on his first day in office, suspending a policy that had required more than 60,000 asylum-seekers arriving at the US’s southwestern border to stay in Mexico while awaiting resolution of their cases in US immigration courts.

The high court’s unsigned order, which must be enforced pending consideration of the case by an appeals court and possibly once again by the Supreme Court, has started to raise tensions in Tijuana even as that northwestern border city continues to receive a steady daily flow of migrants.

Jose Maria Garcia Lara, director of the Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter on Tijuana’s north side, told Efe Thursday that a decision on whether to reinstate the MPP program should take into account the difficulty in attending to migrants’ needs on Mexican soil.

“In the case of Tijuana, this is going to exacerbate overcrowding. Because now if you look at the city’s different shelters they’re all practically full,” said the activist, who cautioned that reinstatement of the program could spark an even more severe immigration crisis.

To date, the Biden administration had allowed 13,256 asylum-seekers previously subjected to the Remain in Mexico rule to enter the US and await resolution of their cases there.

Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, meanwhile, indicate 2,000 others are still in Mexico while pursuing their asylum claims and an additional 1,500 people are waiting in other countries.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of people have been subject to immediate deportation from the US under a Trump-era public-health policy known as Title 42, which justifies those expulsions as a necessary coronavirus-mitigation measure.

The southwest border region is experiencing an unprecedented migrant wave, with 212,672 US Customs and Border Protection encounters with undocumented migrants in July alone, the highest monthly total in 20 years.

Jason, a Honduran man who tried unsuccessfully to cross into the US illegally three months ago with members of his family, including a young girl, arrived in the northwestern Mexican border state of Baja California to flee gang violence that had stripped him of his business and claimed the life of his brother, he told Efe.

He said he needs to stay in Mexico for now because his life would be at grave risk in his homeland, though adding that Tijuana “also is dangerous.”

Another Honduran, Berta Lidia, said she made the trek through Mexico after her daughter was nearly stolen from her and she received threats from criminal groups who recently killed members of her family.

On Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reacted to the US Supreme Court decision by offering assistance to Washington in the immigration sphere.

AMLO reiterated his commitment to protecting migrants, particularly those in Mexico’s southeast region near the border with Guatemala, although he said “this can’t be forever.”

The president also once again called on Washington to invest in development programs that boost people’s quality of life in Central America and southeastern Mexico. EFE


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