DHS Quiet on ‘Remain in Mexico’ Restart After Supreme Court Order

By Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.
September 2, 2021 Updated: September 2, 2021

Nine days after the Supreme Court ordered the Biden administration to restart the Remain in Mexico program, no information is available on new enrollees, and border agents are saying the program hasn’t yet been reinstated.

The program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), was launched during the Trump administration and terminated by President Joe Biden on his first day in office.

The program required asylum-seekers and other illegal aliens to remain in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated. It was “​​the most significant game changer” and largely responsible for a 75 percent drop in illegal crossings, Mark Morgan, who was acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection at the time, told The Epoch Times.

As of Sept. 2, more than a week after the decision, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hasn’t responded to multiple requests for information. The agency did respond to the Supreme Court decision, stating in an Aug. 24 press release that it “will comply with the order in good faith,” while it appealed the original 5th Circuit ruling.

“Alongside interagency partners, DHS has begun to engage with the Government of Mexico in diplomatic discussions surrounding the Migrant Protection Protocols,” DHS stated. “DHS remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”

One Border Patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley Sector told The Epoch Times on Sept. 2 that nothing has changed as far as how illegal immigrants are processed—agents are still releasing many into the United States with a Notice to Report or a Notice to Appear. The majority of single adults and some families are still being turned back under the Title 42 health provision put in place in March 2020.

The agent said nothing has come down the chain of command regarding restarting the Remain in Mexico program.

Another two Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley confirmed that nothing is happening regarding the program.

“The Supreme Court said to do it, but does the president listen to anyone?” the agent told The Epoch Times on Sept. 2. The agents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion.

Epoch Times Photo
A group of Venezuelans is picked up by Border Patrol after illegally crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas, on June 3, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

MPP originally was slowly rolled out along the southern border from late 2019 and was touted as a breakthrough in stopping the phenomenon of “catch-and-release.”

“Overnight, it sent a clear message that that no longer was a child going to be able to be exploited and be utilized as a passport to gain entry to the United States to be released, never heard from again,” Morgan told The Epoch Times on Aug. 25.

“We knew that 90 percent of those coming illegally—that were released and not detained—were either filing fraudulent asylum claims and/or they wouldn’t show up for court. We shut that down.”

Morgan said “there’s no reason” why DHS can’t start sending people back to Mexico under MPP “today,” at least in one or two sectors to start. But he said his sources in the agency have said DHS intends to “slow roll the implementation” of the program.

Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded to the Supreme Court order on Aug. 24, saying his government doesn’t take a position on the ruling.

“However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes that such a judicial decision does not bind Mexico and that its immigration policy is designed and executed in a sovereign manner,” López Obrador said in a statement.

“In the spirit of responding in a humanitarian manner to the needs of migrants, in the context of a complex regional situation, the Government of Mexico will initiate a technical dialogue with the Government of the United States with the central objective of evaluating the scenarios for the management of migratory flows at the shared border in a orderly, safe and regular manner.”

On Sept. 2, López Obrador said he intends to contact Biden by letter next week to discuss the causes of migration, “because we cannot only be detaining, holding back.”

“Cooperation is required for development, both feet, there needs to be investment in Central America, that is what we are proposing,” the Mexican president said.

He hopes the United States will invest in a tree planting program in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador that he says will produce 330,000 jobs.

Biden tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to lead border security efforts, with the main focus being to address the “root causes” of illegal immigration. Harris has visited Mexico and Guatemala in recent months.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a Jan. 21 briefing, “Immigration, we consider, is part of racial equity—which is a broad issue, but that’s how the president has spoken about that crisis over the past several months.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which assisted with the Remain in Mexico program under the Trump administration, told The Epoch Times, “We will have to refer you to the State Department and DHS as to whether the MPP program has restarted.”

Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.