CLINIC Welcomes MPP Termination Memo; A Critical Step Forward for Vulnerable Men, Women and Children Seeking Their Right to Asylum in the United States

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The Biden administration issued a memorandum today terminating the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, a deadly program that forces vulnerable asylum seekers to live in unsafe conditions in Mexico while they wait for their cases to proceed in the United States.

The termination memo follows repeated and urgent calls from immigrant rights advocates and legal experts for the administration to use their authority to end the program. The program had first been put in place by the previous administration, resulting in rape, assault, extortion, kidnapping and murder of asylum seekers, forcing thousands of men, women and children to wait in Mexico, unable to access their legal rights to asylum. A court had previously ruled the Biden administration improperly ended the program finding the first memo terminating the program to be legally inadequate. While working on a new memo addressing the court’s concerns, the administration announced its plans to restart the program leading to escalated objections by immigrant and human rights groups and a powerful statement from Bishop Seitz of El Paso.

“As an organization grounded in Catholic social teaching, our message to the administration has been clear: people fleeing to protect their lives and the lives of their families have a right to seek asylum in the United States. It is our legal and moral duty to welcome them and offer hospitality,” said Anna Gallagher, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. "We are grateful that the administration is taking further steps to reverse this degrading and life-threatening policy. We look forward to working closely with the administration and our partners to ensure that our immigrant brothers and sisters are received with dignity."

Under the first iteration of the program, CLINIC served asylum seekers in Mexico as they were forced to wait for their cases to move forward. Tania Guerrero, a Project Attorney with CLINIC’s Estamos Unidos Asylum Project who provided direct service in Mexico said: “I have witnessed how Migrant Protection Protocols forced a woman to live on the streets, be kidnapped, be offered shelter by someone who was kidnapped himself, and then be kidnapped again and tortured and raped. When she was able to escape and sought protection at the bridge from U.S. CPB officers, they told her to wait for her asylum hearing date as she bled before them. This woman’s story is a reality for so many.”

“While we welcome today’s announcement, the administration must follow it with swift and deliberate action so that MPP is fully and completely ended as soon as possible,” said Luis Guerra, Strategic Capacity Officer at CLINIC. “We must remember that ending MPP does not bring back the lives that were lost under this policy or eliminate the scars and trauma that may never fully go away. Accountability is needed, and steps must be taken to help those who were harmed to heal. And the Biden administration must ensure MPP, or anything like it, never happens again.”

Guerra continued: “Additionally, we must remember the other deadly policy the Biden administration has affirmatively kept in place at the U.S.-Mexico border: Title 42. Like MPP, the administration has the authority to end Title 42 today. Under Title 42, the Biden administration has sent thousands of Haitians and other asylum seekers back to the life-threatening conditions from which they fled. While the termination of MPP is extremely welcome, it is not enough by a long shot. This administration must restore asylum and welcome in line with its promises, human rights, human dignity, and U.S. and international law.”