(UnitedVoice.com) – In 2015, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a case that illegal immigration hurt America and its citizens. As president, he instituted several initiatives to deter migrants from making the dangerous journey from Central America through Mexico and into the United States illegally. One of the most effective was the Remain in Mexico policy.
The Trump administration rule required migrants to remain in Mexico until US immigration judges could rule whether they met the standard for asylum in each case. In 2019, the number who actually received asylum was 0.1%. On day one of Joe Biden’s presidency, he canceled the Remain in Mexico policy. Texas and Missouri sued the administration, and the courts ordered the government to re-institute the program. Now, the administration says it has a deal with Mexico, and the process to ramp the program back up is underway.
Mexico Expressed Initial Concerns
Advocates for the Remain in Mexico policy say the program effectively kept illegal immigrants out of the US. It also reduced human, sex, and drug trafficking. Since President Biden lifted the program, over 1 million illegal immigrants have surged into the US. Biden received heavy criticism for not stemming the tide, especially as he mandated masks on federal property and COVID vaccines for Americans but allowed migrants to enter the country freely without any COVID mandates.
Before Biden canceled the policy he called inhumane, some Mexican officials said the program acted as a deterrent to those who crossed its southern border on the trek north to the United States. Yet, when the courts ordered the Remain in Mexico reinstated, some Mexican officials were hesitant due to the refugee camps it created along its northern border.
When Trump first initiated the plan, Mexico did little to protect the tens of thousands of people who waited for US immigration courts to hear their asylum cases. Many lived in camps, tents, and shelters for months at a time. In some places, the illegal immigrants overtook small towns and communities.
US and Mexico Agree
As part of its agreement with the US, Mexico wants the US to process claims faster and ensure migrants have decent living conditions, access to legal representation, and medical care. The Mexican government also says it will now accept additional resources from the United States to improve the living conditions for those in Mexico awaiting a determination on asylum cases. Mexico added it’s prepared to accept asylum seekers from Spanish-speaking countries as well.
The Biden administration says it will also use Title 42 to expel most border crossers quickly while the pandemic continues.
The question now is, will the administration continue to pursue ending the program through appeals in the courts? What happens if the reinstated policy works and the surging tides of illegal immigrants stop or slow? Will the administration keep the Remain in Mexico policy in place as it works with Mexico and Central American countries to understand why people are leaving and implement policies to incentivize them to stay?
At the moment, there are more questions than answers.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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