Rachel M. "Rae" Whelan, of Gloucester City
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Senator Menendez, Rep. Escobar and Other DC. Politicians Say Reinstating MPP Violates US Obligation to Mexico Refugees

“It is abundantly clear that the United States cannot safely reinstate MPP and that any attempt to return people seeking safety to harm in Mexico will violate U.S. and international legal obligations to refugees.” Senator Menendez (D-NJ)


JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the highest ranking Latino in Congress, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) today announced they led a bicameral group of lawmakers in sending a letter to President Biden urging him to take all necessary legal steps to terminate the Remain in Mexico policy – or the perversely named Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) – that placed tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants in danger.
 
Screen Shot 2021-09-13 at 13.35.46
 
Photo above October 2018, approximately 7,000 Central American immigrants passed north through Guatemala headed for the Mexico-United States border.  According to the July 16, 2021 Texas Tribune Federal officials have logged more than 1.1 million apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year, after another busy month in June, Customs and Border Protection said in a news release.
photo courtesy  of The Atlantic ~ CNBNews files
 
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The letter, which was co-signed by seven U.S. Senators and 22 U.S. Representatives, comes after the Supreme Court denlied the Biden administration’s request for an emergency stay in Biden v. Texas, a decision from the Texas district court forcing the government to again implement MPP.
 
“MPP does not represent our values as a country and should be permanently discarded along with the many other unlawful Trump administration policies designed to punish and deter refugees from seeking safety. The court orders leave ample room for your administration to ensure MPP never again puts another person in harm’s way,” the lawmakers wrote to President Biden. 
 
 
The lawmakers added, “The horrors of MPP are well-documented. During its implementation from January 2019 to early 2021, non-profit groups tracked over 1,500 public reports of rape, kidnapping, torture, trafficking, and other crimes carried out against asylum seekers and migrants sent back to Mexico under the policy. Since you took office and continued the Trump administration’s unlawful Title 42 policy, which also forcibly returns people to harm in Mexico, there have been another 6,356 reports of violent attacks against migrants expelled or blocked in Mexico.”
 
 
They concluded the letter by urging President Biden to act quickly, re-terminate MPP and decline to re-implement any iteration of the dangerous policy. The lawmakers also applauded steps that the Biden administration has taken to safely process over 13,000 individuals previously subjected to MPP.

The letter was also co-signed by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.-44), Karen Bass (D-Calif.-37), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.-01), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.-16), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas-20), Lou Correa (D-Calif.-46), Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.-04), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-Texas-29), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.-53), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.-17), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.-02), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.-02), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn. -05), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.-02), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.-07), Albio Sires (D-N.J.-08), Norma Torres (D-Calif.-35), Ritchie Torres (D.N.Y.-15), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.-51), and Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.-07).
Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below.
 
Dear President Biden,
 
We, the undersigned Members of Congress, urge your administration to take all necessary legal steps to terminate the deadly Remain in Mexico policy (perversely named the Migrant Protection Protocols or MPP) that delivered tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants to danger.
 
We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision denying the Biden administration’s request for an emergency stay in Biden v. Texas, a decision from the Texas district court forcing the government to re-implement this disgraceful policy. MPP does not represent our values as a country and should be permanently discarded along with the many other unlawful Trump administration policies designed to punish and deter refugees from seeking safety. The court orders leave ample room for your administration to ensure MPP never again puts another person in harm’s way.
 
The decisions suggest that the potential perceived problem with your administration’s termination of MPP was that it did not say enough to demonstrate that it had sufficiently weighed the potential consequences of its decision to terminate. The court did not endorse the states’ claims that the government is actually required to return people to Mexico under the immigration statutes. As amicus briefs explained, those claims were egregiously wrong. Thus, we believe your administration can and should re-terminate MPP with a fuller explanation in order to address any perceived procedural defect of the termination.
 
The horrors of MPP are well-documented. During its implementation from January 2019 to early 2021, non-profit groups tracked over 1,500 public reports of rape, kidnapping, torture, trafficking, and other crimes carried out against asylum seekers and migrants sent back to Mexico under the policy. Since you took office and continued the Trump administration’s unlawful Title 42 policy, which also forcibly returns people to harm in Mexico, there have been another 6,356 reports of violent attacks against migrants expelled or blocked in Mexico. It is abundantly clear that the United States cannot safely reinstate MPP and that any attempt to return people seeking safety to harm in Mexico will violate U.S. and international legal obligations to refugees.
 
In addition to subjecting individuals to life-threatening dangers under MPP, the program violated the due process rights of asylum seekers and migrants by stranding them in Mexico without access to legal counsel, forcing them to risk their lives to attend their court hearings--there have been numerous reports of asylum seekers in MPP being kidnapped while attempting to reach immigration court--and requiring many to prepare their cases while facing unrelenting fear and insecurity. In formally terminating the MPP policy, Secretary Mayorkas correctly noted that the astronomically high number of MPP cases resulting in in absentia removal orders raised concerns about the conditions faced by those in MPP, including the “lack of stable access to housing, income, and safety.” It makes a mockery of the U.S. asylum system to resurrect this policy.
 
We urge you to act quickly and re-terminate this policy, and to decline to re-implement any iteration of the dangerous policy. We also urge your administration to continue processing people who were formerly subjected to this policy pursuant to the MPP wind down that your administration began in February. Finally, we applaud the steps that your administration has already taken to process into safety over 13,000 individuals who were previously subjected to MPP. It is critical that your administration continue this wind down of MPP as the horrors of this policy cannot fully end until all who were subjected to it are given a fair chance to apply for refugee protection in the safety of the United States. 
 
Sincerely,
 

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