Washington, Dec 2 (EFE).- US and Mexican officials announced Thursday an accord enabling President Joe Biden’s administration to comply with a court order requiring the resumption of “Remain in Mexico,” a policy which forced migrants seeking asylum in the United States to wait south of the border while their applications are processed.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that Mexico had agreed to accept asylum-seekers on a temporary basis and the Mexican foreign relations secretariat subsequently confirmed the deal.
With Mexico’s assent, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP – the program’s official name) will resume operation “on or around Monday, Dec. 6,” DHS said in a statement.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, used the threat of trade sanctions to coerce the Mexican government into agreeing to harbor third-country nationals applying for asylum in the US and his administration sent more than 60,000 applicants to Mexico.
The program was roundly criticized by human rights organizations and deeply unpopular in Mexico and on taking office in January, Biden suspended Remain in Mexico.
Six months later, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas formally ended MPP, but the states of Texas and Missouri sued the Biden administration and in August, Trump-appointed Federal District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued an injunction to compel DHS to resume the program.
Though the Biden administration has appealed the injunction, DHS said Thursday that pending a final court decision, it will “reimplement MPP in good faith.”
When asked about Remain in Mexico during the daily briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated the administration’s position that MPP is plagued by “endemic flaws” and entails “unjustified human costs.”
“But we also believe in following the law,” she said.
DHS said that the return of asylum-seekers to Mexico will be carried out at ports of entry in San Diego and Calexico, California; Nogales, Arizona; and El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville, Texas.
In practice, the vast majority of deportations along the southern border since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 have taken place under Title 42, a provision of federal health law allowing the exclusion of individuals when “there is serious danger of the introduction of (a communicable) disease into the United States.” EFE