The Biden administration is considering implementing a variation of former President Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy for migrants illegally crossing the southern border, Politico reported Monday.
The new proposal, which is being called “Remain in Mexico Lite,” would offer better living conditions and access to attorneys to a small number of migrants forced to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed, Politico reported based on three people familiar with the discussions.
The Supreme Court late last month refused to block a court ruling ordering the Biden administration to reinstate Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — aka Remain in Mexico — that force people to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the U.S.
President Joe Biden vowed to end the policy while campaigning last year. His administration has begun talks with Mexico to try and strike a balance between abiding by the federal court order and making good on campaign promises.
“One of his campaign promises was to end MPP. He did that. He should stand by that,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of National Immigration Law Center.
“The answer is not to simply find a gentler, kinder MPP 2.0. That completely flies in the face of his promise.”
Immigration attorneys and activists have lobbied the Department of Homeland Security to issue a new memo to try to end the program since the Supreme Court rejected the administration’s request to keep the program inactive while efforts to end it continued in a lower court, according to Politico’s sources.
DHS last week indicated it would appeal the ruling in the courts but did not mention trying to end the program a second time.
“DHS has appealed the district court’s order and will continue to vigorously challenge it,” DHS told Politico. “As the appeals process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith.”
The administration has continued to use Title 42 — a policy used to expedite removals for health reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic — to refuse entry to most migrants encountered at the border, Politico said.
Biden is making exceptions for unaccompanied children and some families, who could be impacted by any new Remain in Mexico policies.
“The most frustrating part of the last eight months has been just the constantly changing policies and situations on the border, particularly for the asylum seekers because they’re on the other side thinking that, ‘if we wait, Biden is going to eventually open up the ports of entry and allow us in,'” Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel for refugee protection at Human Rights First, told Politico.