Biden Ends Trump-Era ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy

Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas does away with 2019 decision credited with curbing migrant flow

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June 1, 2021

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas officially ended the Trump-era  "Remain in Mexico" policy on Tuesday, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

"I have determined that MPP does not adequately or substantially enhance border management in such a way as to justify the program’s extensive operational burden and other shortfalls," Mayorkas wrote in a signed memo, referring to the "Remain in Mexico" policy by its official name, the Migrant Protection Protocols. "Over the course of the program, border encounters increased during certain periods and decreased during others."

Mayorkas’s memo is the latest effort by the president to unilaterally chip away at his predecessor’s immigration policies. Biden suspended MPP even as the country faces a historic surge of illegal border crossings. Some Customs and Border Protection officials were still surprised to see the policy revoked, rather than modified given the reality on the ground, as the border crisis became a defining issue of the president’s first 100 days in office. A senior border official said the administration's decision will only exacerbate the strain on America's border security.

"The termination of MPP will cause even further strain of our immigration courts and undoubtedly incentivize further migration from Central America," the official said. "The administration continues to undermine policy that secures our borders."

In his memo, Mayorkas writes that the COVID-19 pandemic forced "tens of thousands of MPP enrollees [to live] with uncertainty in Mexico as court hearings were postponed indefinitely." Those delays, as well as supposed humanitarian concerns about forcing migrants back to Mexico, is not "consistent with the Administration’s broader policy objectives," Mayorkas writes.

The move follows a series of executive orders from the Biden administration that have expanded protections for illegal immigrants. The administration, for example, expanded Temporary Protected Status to tens of thousands of Venezuelans in March and Haitian nationals in May, virtually all of whom entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas. The White House is expanding those protections to also exempt migrants from COVID safety measures. One of Biden’s earliest executive orders exempted children from Title 42, a federal legal provision that allows the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to deport immigrants who may carry "a serious danger of introduction of [a communicable disease]" used by Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his memo, Mayorkas advises that Title 42 should be rescinded altogether.

"I have further considered the potential impact to [Department of Homeland Security] operations in the event that current entry restrictions pursuant to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 order are no longer required as a public health measure," Mayorkas writes.

The memo’s implication that DHS no longer needs to enforce Title 42 had one senior CPB official saying the order is "effectively dead." Left-wing activists and humanitarian groups have repeatedly attacked Biden for his failure to rescind the order, calling Title 42 a violation of international law.

A May 20 Free Beacon revealed that the Biden administration was broadly interpreting exemptions within Title 42 to allow as many migrants entry as possible. In the weeks leading up to Mayorkas’s memo, Biden administration officials have complained to the press that the law is inhumane. The senior Customs and Border Protection official expressed alarm at the abandonment of Title 42.

"The [White House] is celebrating our pandemic successes by increasing the risk of cross border COVID spread," the official said.