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México Rejects US Return to ‘Remain in México’ Policy

A migrant living on the streets of Ciudad Juárez near the U.S. border. Photo: Cuartoscuro

México has rejected a move by the United States to reactivate the “Remain in México” policy that has asylum seekers required to wait inside México while their US claims get processed. The México News Daily earlier this month updated the status of this border situation, and we offer excerpts from that update here.


The Biden administration has pledged to end the “Remain in México” program, which the Trump administration introduced in 2019. In June, the US Supreme Court ruled that Biden had the right to terminate the program. But a federal judge in December ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by states like Missouri and Texas that argued the Department of Homeland Security had failed to show the policy’s ineffectiveness.


After US authorities notified Mexico of the intention to reinstate the program, Méxicos Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement strongly opposing the plan.


Human rights groups have criticized the “Remain in México” policy — known officially as the Migrant Protection Protocols — for forcing migrants to wait in dangerous border cities that leave them vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups.


The US, even during the “Remain in México” suspension, has continued to expel many asylum seekers under pandemic-era public health regulations known as Title 42. Like “Remain in Mexico,” Title 42 has been subject to multiple contradictory US legal rulings. A federal judge ordered its termination in November, but the Supreme Court granted a stay in December after several US states argued that a sudden influx of asylum-seekers allowed to stay in the United States to await processing of their claims would overwhelm their services.


If both “Remain in México” and Title 42 are terminated, the US will either have to allow asylum seekers to remain in the country while their claims are processed or make other arrangements to remove them.


After México’s Foreign Affairs Ministry rejected the “Remain in México’s reinstatement, a spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security told Reuters that the program “has always been contingent on the government of México’s willingness to accept returns” and that the Biden administration would keep trying to terminate the policy through the courts.