Updated: Sep 23
For Immediate Release
December 14, 2021
Contact: Renee Garcia
LOS ANGELES: In a severe blow to justice, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld a lower court order that requires the U.S. to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols program (MPP) also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. MPP began under the Trump administration and forced over 70,000 asylum seekers including small children, medically vulnerable persons and pregnant women to stay in severely dangerous conditions in border towns while awaiting asylum proceedings in the U.S. This first iteration of the policy acted as a barrier to the right to asylum and access to U.S. legal counsel. The 5th Circuit agreed with the lower court that the Biden administration’s decision to terminate the policy violated legal administration procedures and federal immigration law. In doing so, the Court turned down the administration’s attempt to terminate the program through a second memo while distorting factual evidence about the policy and turning a blind eye to the humanitarian disaster it causes.
ImmDef calls on the Biden Administration to once and for all declare that MPP is unlawful and calls on Congress to defund MPP. It is unconscionable that U.S. dollars continue to be spent on a program that causes grave harm to vulnerable asylum seekers. For years we have decried the dangers of this policy after witnessing firsthand the damage it causes to our clients and the thousands who are not able to attain legal representation. We will continue to fight to end MPP once and for all. We urge the Biden administration to fight for humanity and dignity for all by ending this program and restoring a fair and safe asylum system along the southern border.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Lindsay Toczylowski, said, “This is yet another blow to restoring the right to asylum that will undoubtedly lead to more death and suffering at our border. The MPP program from its inception was designed to deny people the right to seek meaningful protection to which they are entitled. There is no way to reimplement this program in a manner that will protect human lives, human dignity, or access to due process. This is another sad development in the struggle for the human rights of migrants at our border. Our hearts are heavy today thinking of the thousands of asylum seekers who will be persecuted, kidnapped and harmed while trapped in this new iteration of MPP.”
Managing Attorney of ImmDef’s Cross Border Initiative, Margaret Cargioli, said, “We cannot allow for the derailment of the end of an inhumane policy which has harmed thousands of human beings. The Migrant Protection Protocols program has proven to be a miscarriage of justice. Justice is on the side of asylum seekers who are vying for their right to seek asylum in the United States in a dignified and safe manner. I think back to the children we heard crying on audio when separated from their parents at the U.S. Southern border. I still hear cries like these from children in shelters in Tijuana with their mothers who are pleading for the opportunity to enter the U.S. and present evidence in their asylum case. We urge Biden to hear them and fight for them and the right side of the law.”
Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) is a next-generation social justice law firm that defends our immigrant communities against injustices in the legal system. We envision a future where no immigrant will be forced to face an unjust immigration court alone. Our programs are a first step towards the long-term goal of providing universal representation to all immigrants facing deportation. ImmDef is now the largest non‐profit, pro bono provider of deportation defense in California with offices in Los Angeles, Adelanto, Riverside, Santa Ana, and San Diego.