In January 2019, the Department of Homeland Security began the implementation of a program called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). This program would soon become known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, as it denied asylum seekers at the southern U.S. border entry to the United States until their cases could be heard by an immigration court.
Since its implementation, the MPP program forced people that were fleeing for their lives to the United States to find shelter south of the Mexican border while they awaited a court hearing. Many of these vulnerable asylum seekers found themselves further victimized in Mexico as a result. When their court date finally arrived, they would find themselves shuffled into a makeshift tent court to plead their case before a remote judge via videocall.
In February 2021, under new executive administration, the Department of Homeland Security announced that they would begin shutting down the MPP program and return to paroling asylum seekers into the United States while they awaited their court date.
However, on August 13, 2021, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered a nationwide injunction directing the Biden administration to reinstate the MPP program on August 20, 2021. The Supreme Court issued a stay on the issue until August 24, 2021 while they could consider the arguments against the injunction. Currently, this is where the issue remains.
If the MPP program is ordered to be reinstated, this will be a huge blow to asylum seekers attempting to escape persecution. We will be keeping a close eye on this story as it continues to develop.
Update: On August 24, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Justice Department’s motion to stay the injunctive order requiring that the MPP be reinstated. With this nationwide injunction now granted, the federal government is currently scrambling to figure out how exactly they will resurrect this program against their own will. This is a sad step backward for asylum law. We will continue to monitor this case as it progresses.
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