Biden Urged To Quickly End ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program That ‘Needlessly’ Harms Migrants

By Kendal Blust
Published: Monday, January 11, 2021 - 5:05am

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A family marches
Kino Border Initiative
A family marches together during a Save Asylum protest in Nogales, Sonora, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Asylum seekers waiting south of the border are asking the incoming Biden administration to restore the right to asylum in the United States.

In a new report, research and advocacy group Human Rights Watch describes the dangers and trauma migrants are exposed to under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. The group is encouraging President-elect Joe Biden to immediately end the program once in office.

The report says asylum seekers, including infants and children, have been exposed to violence, abduction and rape while awaiting U.S. court hearings in Mexican border cities. And it urges Biden to quickly follow through with promises to end the program.

The president-elect, however, has suggested he will roll back the policy more slowly, citing concerns that changes could spur more migrant arrivals at the border.

Migrant advocates argue that waiting to dismantle the “Remain in Mexico” program is unlikely to stop people from fleeing danger at home, but keeping it in place will add to serious and ongoing threats asylum seekers face.

"It’s really just forcing people who have already been waiting and who are already at the border to wait longer in the precarious situations that they’re in," said Sara Ritchie, communications director with the binational humanitarian aid group Kino Border Initiative in Nogales. is with the binational migrant aid group Kino Border Initiative in Nogales. "These are people that have been there now day in and day out for over a year living in the same fear and the same uncertainty and same instability.

The Trump administration implemented the "Remain in Mexico" program in 2019. More than 69,000 asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico since it started. Court hearings for those in the program have been indefinitely postponed during the pandemic. Many have been waiting in limbo for a year or more hoping to receive refuge in the U.S.

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