The Department of Homeland Security published a memo to agency heads Friday stating plans to abolish the program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. The policy dictated noncitizens claiming asylum at ports of entry or illegally passing the border to be delivered back to Mexico to wait for their day in U.S. immigration court.
“After carefully considering the arguments, evidence, and perspectives presented by those who support re-implementation of MPP, those who support terminating the program, and those who have argued for continuing MPP in a modified form, I have determined that MPP should be terminated,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in the memo. “In reaching this conclusion, I recognize that MPP likely contributed to reduced migratory flows. But it did so by imposing substantial and unjustifiable human costs on the individuals who were exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico.”
The Supreme Court had directed the administration to re-impose the policy in August after a lower court had ordered that the struggle to end it had violated the Administrative Procedures Act. President Joe Biden had suspended the Remain in Mexico policy upon taking office and moved to end it in June.
“The Department of Homeland Security intends to issue in the coming weeks a new memorandum terminating the Migrant Protection Protocols,” the DHS said in a statement in September. “Although the Department issued a June 2021 memorandum that terminated MPP, a Texas district court vacated that prior termination determination and issued an injunction that requires the Department to work in good faith to restart MPP. The Department has appealed that injunction.”
DHS may have already given millions of dollars to restart the program, as directed by the Supreme Court, despite concurrently working to stop it. The DHS disclosed in U.S. Court documents related to the MPP suit show that the U.S. has forked up $14 million and intends to spend an additional $24 million per month to set up tent courts where judges will hear asylum cases.
Mayorkas said the Biden Administration seeks other ways to reduce migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, including discussions on the root causes that lead people to leave Central America and reform the U.S. asylum system.