The Biden administration has informed a federal court it plans to re-implement former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for migrants who have entered the country illegally, if officials can get approval from the U.S.’s neighbor.
The decision came after federal court victories by Missouri and Texas in a lawsuit claiming that President Joe Biden ended the policy too quickly earlier this year via executive order.
Under the policy, U.S. immigration officials deported as many as 70,000 migrants who crossed illegally into the U.S. seeking asylum to Mexico, where they awaited a decision in their cases.
Thursday, the government said it disagrees, but is complying with the court’s decision — and that it should be back in effect by mid-November.
DHS disagrees with the court’s ruling. However, as part of our compliance, DHS filed a status report Thursday outlining the steps it has taken to follow the law and abide by the court’s order.
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) October 15, 2021
“[We are] taking necessary steps to comply with the court order, which requires us to reimplement [the policy] in good faith,” the Homeland Security Department said, according to NBC News.
Human Rights First, a Washington, DC-based rights group, says at least 1,544 cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other assaults have been reported against asylum seekers waiting in Mexico as of February 2021.
“Restarting any version of the Trump administration’s notorious Remain in Mexico policy will lead to immense human suffering,” Eleanor Acer, the organization’s senior director of refugee protection, said in a statement. “Trump 2.0 policies at the border are a recipe for continued cruelty, disorder, and violations of refugee law.”
The Department of Homeland Security has appealed the initial ruling and is developing a memorandum that will end the policy once again. But officials are required to re-implement it “in good faith” in the meantime.
The administration’s announcement came after U.S. officials met with high-level counterparts from the Mexican government.
“Mexico is a sovereign nation that must make an independent decision to accept the return of individuals without status in Mexico as part of any reimplementation of MPP. Discussions with the Government of Mexico concerning when and how MPP will be reimplemented are ongoing,” said DHS said in a Thursday statement.
In its court filing, the Biden administration said that Mexico “has made clear that it has concerns about aspects of how MPP was previously implemented.”