After the Biden administration’s suspension and then termination in June 2021 of the Trump-era policy known as “Remain in Mexico” or the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” under which asylum seekers who wish to enter the United States through Mexico await processing there, the policy is being reinstated due to a court ruling in August 2021. President Biden previously called the policy “inhumane” because it forced tens of thousands of people to wait for months in conditions that included violent crimes perpetrated against them, among other risks.
Under the reinstated policy, at Mexico’s request, COVID-19 vaccinations will be provided, exemptions will be possible for reasons including physical and mental health issues, and the time spent in the program will be limited to six months per applicant. The Department of Homeland Security also said that the U.S. government is committed to reimplementing the program “in a way that enhances protection for individuals enrolled in the program.” Among the measures being taken are the provision of access to shelters in Mexico and “safe transit” to and from ports of entry to the shelters, to enable individuals to attend court hearings. Additionally, DHS said, the government of Mexico “has committed to ensuring that individuals enrolled in [the program] are provided temporary legal status in Mexico and will, as a result, be able to work and access services in Mexico.” DHS also said that family units would not be separated for purposes of enrollment in the program. DHS said it would observe “non-refoulement” principles and that no individual who demonstrates a “reasonable possibility of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” or a “reasonable possibility of torture in Mexico” will be returned to Mexico involuntarily.
According to reports, the policy is expected to be re-implemented on December 6, 2021.