FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesRemain in Mexico Policy in Limbo Despite Supreme Court Ruling Effectively Ordering Reimplementation

The U.S. government needs the cooperation of the Mexican government before it proceeds with reinstituting the Migrant Protection Protocols.​​
October 26, 2021
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Though the United States Supreme Court has effectively ordered the reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the remain in Mexico policy, the future of the program is uncertain while Texas continues to weather extraordinarily high numbers of illegal immigration in the meantime.

According to United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics that are current as of October 14, there were 55,072 enforcement encounters in the Rio Grande Valley sector in September alone, as well as 43,570 in the Del Rio sector, 8,605 in the Laredo sector, 2,574 in the Big Bend sector, and 17,815 in the El Paso sector.

In Fiscal Year 2021, which saw more than 1.7 million border arrests in the southwestern United States, there were 549,077 arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector, 259,294 enforcement encounters in the Del Rio sector, 112,241 in the Laredo sector, 37,266 in the Big Bend sector, and 193,918 in the El Paso sector.

The remain in Mexico policy was launched by the Trump administration in early 2019 and was on the chopping block when President Biden took office as part of his campaign pledge to loosen the country’s immigration policies.

When it was instituted, the MPP was defined by DHS as “a U.S. Government action whereby certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico – illegally or without proper documentation – may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay.

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After Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued the Biden administration in April, federal Judge Matthew J. Kaczmaryk of Amarillo ultimately ordered the federal government to bring back the remain in Mexico policy. In August, the Supreme Court denied an appeal of Kaczmaryk’s decision.

While the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reportedly slated to reintroduce the program next month, its reinstatement is contingent on the cooperation of President Andrés Manual López Obrador and the Mexican government.

DHS published a press release in late September indicating it would author new documents terminating the Migrant Protection Protocols that would hopefully satisfy the courts.

“In the meantime, while the court injunction remains in effect, the Department has been working in good faith to re-start MPP in compliance with the order, and it will continue to do so,” the press release stated.

“To that end, the Department, working with the Department of State, is engaged in ongoing and high-level diplomatic discussions with Mexico. Simultaneously, the Department has instituted an interagency Task Force to efficiently rebuild the infrastructure and reapportioning the staffing that will be needed to restart MPP once that concurrence has been obtained.”

Former CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, who has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration’s handling of illegal immigration, pointed to the fact that the federal government is virtually delegating whether the U.S. border will be secured to another country.

“Make no mistake, under President Trump we took the position, which I think is the right position, we do not need another country’s permission to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws,” Morgan said at a recent border security conference with Republican U.S. senators.

“So, first and foremost, that’s the position we took, one of strength and one of leverage. Part of the significant reason why Mexico agreed to cooperate is, was the threat of tariffs, make no mistake, and this administration […] gave away every ounce of that leverage on day one with the stroke of a political pen.” 

Incredulous that Biden officials claim to be reinstating the program in good faith while actively fighting it in court, Morgan remarked, “They’re putting it back on a foreign nation to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws and that’s the opposite thing to do and that’s why I’m skeptical and I don’t think it’s actually going to happen to any full force like we did under the Trump administration.”

Mexican officials are pushing back on the reinstatement of the MPP, adding various stipulations to their cooperation such as an approximately six-month time limit on asylum cases, the Associated Press reported earlier this month.

Opponents of the policy believe it worsens humanitarian issues by forcing individuals to stay in unsafe and unhealthy conditions near the U.S.-Mexico border instead of allowing them to enjoy admission to the U.S. while they wait.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was reportedly preparing DHS for the possibility of up to 400,000 illegal crossings in October if worst comes to worst.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.