“It is so important that we get it right because asylum can be a matter of life and death”
Yesterday, the Biden administration announced another step to undo the cruelty of the Trump administration.
Stephen Miller and his lackeys devised the Migrant Protection Protocols to gut the asylum system. They forced those arriving at our southern border to seek safety and freedom in America to remain in dangerous settlements in Mexico where they were subjected to crime and mostly blocked from fair asylum hearings.
The change reopens the asylum process to thousands of individuals who will, for the first time, have a fair chance to make their claims. These include thousands whose asylum claims were denied in absentia because they were unable to show up in court on the U.S. side of the border – at times because they were held by kidnappers. Human Rights First has documented the thousands of kidnappings, murders, rapes and other intimidations suffered by those in MPP who are among those who were denied in absentia and the barriers these families and individuals faced in obtaining counsel.
The following is a statement from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice, reacting to the announcement and implications.
On asylum, it is so important that we get it right because asylum can be a matter of life and death. While not everyone will or should be granted asylum, every asylum seeker should have a full and fair opportunity to make their case. MPP – or Remain in Mexico – was designed to ensure that people could not have access to a fair hearing and was the essential component of Stephen Miller’s plan to gut asylum. As he infamously stated in 2019, ‘My mantra has persistently been presenting aliens with multiple unsolvable dilemmas to impact their calculus for choosing to make the arduous journey to begin with.’ Yet clearly, no matter how cruel or draconian the strategy, deterrence did not work.
Winding down MPP and allowing those denied a fair chance to reapply is what needs to happen. Only 523 people of the more than 70,000 people subjected to MPP ultimately received U.S. asylum or other protections, few had counsel and most were denied in absentia, while subjected to horrid conditions in Mexico. Human Rights First documented ‘at least 1,544 public reports of violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants subjected to MPP, including kidnapping, rape, and murder.’ Keeping vulnerable people in danger was a feature, not a bug, of Stephen Miller’s design.
The Biden administration’s MPP announcement is a major step toward undoing the cruelty and chaos of the Trump administration. The President is advancing a clear plan to rebuild our immigration, refugee and asylum systems to uphold American values and re-establish our best traditions as a beacon of hope for vulnerable people. The goal is to address asylum directly, address root causes that force people to flee their homes, provide legal channels for work and to reunite families and deliver legislation to create a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who live, work and raise families in the United States.
Immigrants and refugees strengthen America, especially when their process of becoming Americans is well-managed, safe, and orderly. Yesterday’s news moved us closer to our best version of America – one that treats those who knock on our door seeking life-saving protections with dignity, humanity and fairness.