Revamped 'Remain in Mexico' policy now includes Haitians

Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 5:15am
Updated: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 9:23am
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.04 MB)

A new version of the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, is set to take effect in ports along the southwest border this week. The Biden administration was required by court order to restart the controversial Trump-era policy. But the new administration is also expanding it. 

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers were forced to wait for U.S. immigration hearings under Trump. But only those from Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil were eligible for MPP under Trump. 

The new policy expands to include countries across the entire Western Hemisphere, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo released last week. That means Haitians will now be included, too. Rodney Montreuil, founder and executive director of Phoenix nonprofit Haitian American Center for Social and Economic Development, has spoken with dozens of Haitians making the journey. 

"Some of them are already in Mexico, or on the way to Mexico, or were very close to crossing the borders. And then, now they are out of resources," he said.  

Haitians have come to the U.S. in increasing numbers as the country reels from political turmoil, poverty and natural disasters. Haitian migrants have also reported facing racial discrimination and violence at the hands or organized crime in Mexico, problems Montreuil says he's told about often. 

The DHS memo released last week said under the new MPP, unaccompanied children are exempt, as they were under Trump, along with elderly migrants, those part of the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities and other groups deemed vulnerable.

Montreuil says with all the factors ongoing in Haiti, he’d hoped Haitians would be exempt, too. Now, he’s not sure what’s next.