On his first day in office, President Joe Biden suspended the Remain-in-Mexico policy, a legacy of President Donald Trump’s administration. However, the states of Texas and Missouri initiated a federal lawsuit, after which the Biden administration had no choice but to reinstate the controversial program.
What does the Remain-in-Mexico policy mean for asylum seekers, and how can immigration lawyers help? Nash Joseph Fayad, the founder of Virginia immigration law firm Fayad Law, P.C., explains.
What Is the Remain-in-Mexico Policy?
Under the reinstated Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), aka the Remain-in-Mexico program, asylum seekers have to wait in Mexico while the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes their claims. Designated border locations for migrant passage include the cities of San Diego, CA, and El Paso, Laredo, and Brownsville, TX.
Mexico serves as an in-between stop for many migrants from Central and South America, who often face grave physical danger and horrifying humanitarian conditions in their countries of origin. Most of these people hope to find safety and stability in the United States.
The Trump Administration implemented the MPP program to force over 60,000 asylum seekers back across the Mexican border. This move made migrants vulnerable to extortion, crime, and human trafficking.
Why Did the Biden Administration Reinstate MPP?
Many people, including President Biden, denounced the Remain-in-Mexico policy as inhumane and failing to address the core issues of unregulated migration. Human rights activists cheered when Biden rescinded the MPP.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that Biden failed to follow the required legal procedure in canceling the program. This ruling forced the Biden administration to reinstate the MPP. However, the updated program will operate under several significant changes.
What Can Asylum Seekers Expect Under the Renewed Remain-in-Mexico Policy?
Now that the MPP has relaunched, migrants who seek asylum status in the United States again need to wait in Mexico until their immigration hearings take place, with some exceptions. The Mexican government cooperates with the Biden Administration to protect asylum seekers and avoid a humanitarian crisis.
Here are a few of the changes the reinstated MPP includes:
- Border officials will ask all potential enrollees whether they fear returning to Mexico. A positive answer may lead to a screening interview for asylum seekers.
- Vulnerable individuals may be exempt from the program. This may include people with physical or mental health issues, elderly migrants, and individuals facing a high risk of discrimination.
- Court hearings will take place, if possible, within 180 days. To avoid a backlog, more than 20 immigration judges will handle these cases exclusively.
- Participants will be able to contact immigration lawyers both before and during their interviews with border officials and before U.S. court hearings.
- U.S. officials will work to preserve the safety of migrants as they travel to or from their hearings. Migrants who return to high-risk locations inside Mexico will receive placement in safer areas.
One of the MPP’s proclaimed goals was to prevent the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 across the U.S.-Mexican border. To combat the pandemic, all participating migrants will receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Adults may receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while eligible children will get the first Pfizer jab during the waiting period and the second jab as they cross the border for court hearings.
Who Is Eligible to Enroll in the MPP Program?
During the Trump era, Mexico only accepted migrants from Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil. The new Biden-era version of the policy expands eligibility to the entire Western Hemisphere. This change means that individuals from Haiti may now also participate in the program.
How an Asylum-Seeker Lawyer Can Help You
If you seek asylum in the United States, refusal of refugee status and deportation to your home country could be devastating. With so much at stake, you need quick and efficient legal help from a competent asylum lawyer in the U.S.
Here is how an asylum seeker lawyer can help migrants who are hoping to find a safe home in the United States:
- Petition for the recognition of asylum-seekers as refugees
- Help gather evidence that would qualify migrants for asylum
- Provide counsel on adjusting asylum status to permanent residency
At Fayad Law, a Virginia-based immigration law firm with over 20 years of combined legal experience, we have a proven track record of success in supporting immigrants. In fact, we are immigrants ourselves. We are here to fight for your best interests and help you achieve the American Dream.
Fayad Law, P.C.: Best Asylum Lawyer Near Me in Richmond or Northern Virginia
If you are looking for an immigration attorney, you may be facing the terrifying prospects of deportation, separation from your family, or physical danger. Our dedicated and experienced immigration lawyers of Fayad Law can protect your rights, defend you against deportation, and help you attain your American Dream.
We operate in two locations, with offices in Richmond and Fairfax, VA, near Washington, DC. Contact us today at 804-249-4747 or complete our online form for an initial consultation and a case evaluation by an asylum lawyer. We are here to help you.
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