Of all the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies, arguably the most effective in reducing the flow of migrants across the southern border was the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy that had asylum-seekers and new arrivals wait in Mexico until their legal cases could be adjudicated.
Although the Biden administration essentially suspended the program on Joe Biden’s first day in office, the administration has now announced that the policy has been formally terminated altogether, the Washington Examiner reported.
The policy was first implemented in January 2019 and it is estimated that approximately 67,000 migrants were enrolled, though enrollment began to decline in 2020 due to the pandemic and ceased altogether when Biden entered office.
MPP paused pending review
On Jan. 20, a memo by the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended the MPP program pending an expected ordered review, which came less than two weeks later in the form of an executive order from President Biden addressing several border and immigration-related enforcement programs.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security shall promptly review and determine whether to terminate or modify the program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP),” Biden’s Feb. 2 executive order stated.
The order added, “In coordination with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of CDC, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall promptly consider a phased strategy for the safe and orderly entry into the United States, consistent with public health and safety and capacity constraints, of those individuals who have been subjected to MPP for further processing of their asylum claims.”
Program formally terminated
On June 1, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo that stated, “Having now completed the further review undertaken pursuant to Executive Order 14010 to determine whether to terminate or modify MPP, and for the reasons outlined below, I am by this memorandum terminating the MPP program.”
“I direct DHS personnel to take all appropriate actions to terminate MPP, including taking all steps necessary to rescind implementing guidance and other directives or policy guidance issued to implement the program,” he continued.
Mayorkas then provided some background information regarding how the program was developed and implemented prior to moving on to explain his final determination that the MPP should be terminated instead of continued as-is or modified in some form.
The administration’s broader objectives
Mayorkas argued that, per his review, the MPP had “experienced significant challenges” and enjoyed “mixed effectiveness” in meeting its established goals of reducing the flow of migrants across the border, easing the burden on immigration courts, and creating an orderly process for allowing in those who were granted asylum or permitted entry for other purposes.
On issue after issue, the secretary repeatedly concluded that any benefits gained from the program were outweighed by the costs, in addition to repeatedly stating that continuation of the MPP would not be “consistent with the Administration’s broader policy objectives.”
“Therefore, in accordance with the strategy and direction in Executive Order 14010, following my review, and informed by the current phased strategy for the safe and orderly entry into the United States of certain individuals enrolled in MPP, I have concluded that, on balance, MPP is no longer a necessary or viable tool for the Department,” Mayorkas wrote.