Despite appeals and urges strongly conveyed by rights groups, pro-immigration organizations, and even the United Nations to terminate cruel border policies, the United States continues to expand anti-immigration policies and harsh border programs.
In the latest development, the US, while keeping with a federal court order, expanded the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy to San Diego, California. This program forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for US immigration hearings.
The Biden administration had tried to revoke this policy soon after coming into power. However, Texas and Missouri had sued and a federal court had ordered to reinstate the said policy.
The pro-immigration organizations had strongly condemned this move and called to cancel this policy that exposes asylum seekers to diseases, threats, and inhuman treatment during their stay in Mexico.
Conversely, the US expanded this widely-questioned policy to San Diego, California, and began returning migrants to the Mexican city of Tijuana. Previously, the US had made a settlement with Mexico in December 2021 to relaunch the controversial scheme – Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Since the relaunch of MPP in December 2021, more than 200 people have been returned to Mexico so far. In 2019, the US had forced some 70,000 migrants seeking asylum to wait months and sometimes years in Mexico for a court hearing instead of allowing them to await their court dates within the US premises.
While restarting MPP, the Biden administration had promised to add new humanitarian protections, like health screenings, access to COVID-19 vaccines, and lawyers. But according to a report released by the advocacy group Human Rights First, these promises had not materialized.
“Most migrants were never informed of their right to speak with a lawyer while in US custody,” the report said, adding that the migrants were not adequately screened for health vulnerabilities that might require them to remain in the US.
Such inhuman treatment meted out to migrants caught the UN’s attention, which expressed concern over the reinstatement of this unsympathetic policy.
UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told the media in Geneva: “We are concerned about the re-implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocol and the risk that it poses on the already stretched humanitarian capacity of Mexico to receive migrants.”
More than 240 pro-migrant groups voiced similar concerns and urged President Biden to end two border policies that block or reduce access to asylum in the US, calling these policies ‘illegal’ as they violate US law and international treaty obligations.
The two policies criticized by the groups include “MPP,” and “Title 42,” which allows the authorities to rapidly expel migrants caught at the border during the COVID-19 pandemic without giving them a chance to seek asylum.
The relaunch of MPP significantly increased hopelessness in migrants. They were regarding Biden as a messiah rather than a president. However, they need to understand that the Biden administration was required to comply with the court-ordered restart “in good faith” and still disagreed with the policy.
Biden is a committed person, who strongly believes in democratic values and human rights. He is on the job to reform the immigration policy, and his recent decision to make 20,000 additional visas available for workers from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti espouses this notion.