The International Rescue Committee (IRC) welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant the Biden Administration the legal authority to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program and calls for further action to protect the rights of asylum seekers.

MPP, also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, has denied people fleeing violence and persecution their legal right to seek safety in the U.S. For over three years, this harmful U.S. policy has impacted more than 75,000 asylum seekers, requiring them to wait out their U.S. court hearings in Mexico–mostly in northern border towns–with often impossible expectations to gather evidence and prepare for a trial conducted in English, while struggling to keep their families safe. The impact of MPP, alongside more than 2 million Title 42 expulsions, has required Mexico to fulfill growing humanitarian needs as asylum seekers wait, sometimes for years, to seek safety in the U.S. The IRC has observed the insecurity in northern Mexico during this period, as organized criminal networks and human smugglers have targeted desperate asylum seekers and profited from the border policies that deny them their rights. 

The IRC encourages the Biden Administration to swiftly take all necessary actions to end MPP once and for all. We also call for the Administration to restore and strengthen the U.S. asylum system through safe, orderly, and humane reception and processing at the border. The Administration must continue to expand its capacity to process asylum seekers at ports of entry, end forcible detentions and deportations, and ensure greater access to immigration legal services. Tragic events, such as the recent loss of 53 migrants found in an abandoned truck in Texas, underline the need for a fair and humane approach to asylum in the U.S. since restrictive policies are forcing people to seek refuge in dangerous situations. 

Olga Byrne, Director of Asylum, and Immigration Legal Services at the International Rescue Committee said:

“We welcome the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Biden Administration, recognizing its authority to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which has deprived tens of thousands of asylum seekers due process and their right to seek protection in the U.S.

“These policies have severe humanitarian consequences for asylum seekers, who are finding themselves at risk of murder, rape, extortion, and other violence. This is particularly true for Black migrants and women, who experience acute discrimination and violence during their journey and along the border. The harsh reality is that these conditions often resemble the threats and dangers that asylum seekers originally fled from in their home countries. 

“Civil society and local communities have the expertise and the infrastructure to help the Biden Administration achieve its goals of safe, regular, and humane migration processes that respect the right to seek asylum. The Biden Administration must work to further end border externalization policies that put asylum seekers at risk.”

The IRC’s Asylum and Protection work in the United States

The IRC provides case management, humanitarian reception, information services, and legal assistance to asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and other vulnerable people seeking protection in the U.S. In fiscal year 2021, the IRC served nearly 35,000 people through its U.S. Asylum and Protection programming, both with services along the U.S. Mexico border and in cities across the U.S.

The IRC in Mexico

Currently, the IRC is responding along the main migration corridors in Mexico: from the southern to the northern borders and along the routes through the country. The IRC’s programs respond to the most urgent needs of people on the move, covering: economic recovery and development, including multipurpose cash transfers to meet basic needs; mental health and psychosocial support; prevention and response to gender-based violence; access to critical information through InfoDigna, a multi-channel platform; as well as identifying needs and referring cases to local service providers. Additionally, the IRC is supporting local integration efforts by providing cultural orientation to individuals who have chosen to stay in Mexico.