Migration

A year later, the Biden administration is failing to craft a safe and humane migration policy – Mexico

Title 42 and “Remain in Mexico” are still used to turn away people seeking protection

New York, January 19, 2022—A year after US President Joe Biden took office promising to build a fair, safe and humane immigration system, his administration has instead continued or expanded some of the most harmful policies of the Trump era preventing people to seek asylum at the US southern border, Médecins Sans Frontières/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today. The Biden administration has carried out nearly one million Title 42 evictions in the past year, including tens of thousands of vulnerable people turned away without due process. Following the reinstatement of Migrant Protection Protocols (MPPs) in December, the Biden administration has already begun sending asylum seekers to unsafe areas of Mexico to await their asylum hearings.

“We continue to witness the threats that asylum seekers and migrants face in Mexico, their constant exposure to violence and trauma, and their lack of access to shelter and basic services.”
– Avril Benoît, Executive Director of MSF-USA

President Biden’s betrayal of his stated commitments is putting people’s lives and health at risk, said the international medical humanitarian organization, which treats people on the move along the migration route through Central America and the United States. Mexico to the United States since 2012.

“President Biden has broken his promises to manage migration in a way that treats people fairly and humanely,” said Avril Benoît, MSF’s executive director in the United States. “Every day our teams in Mexico are seeing more people suffer because of these broken promises. We continue to witness the threats faced by asylum seekers and migrants in Mexico, their constant exposure to violence and trauma, and their lack of access to shelter and basic services.

Many MSF patients have been impacted by two of the most harmful migration policies implemented in recent years: Title 42 and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly referred to as “staying in Mexico”.

Title 42 is a public health order originally invoked by the Trump administration, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to effectively close the border to asylum seekers. Since the policy was introduced in March 2020, it has been used to authorize more than 1.45 million deportations from the United States, including nearly one million between February and December 2021 under the watch of the Biden administration. .

Asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico or their countries of origin to face again the same dangers they had fled. MSF and many medical experts have repeatedly stressed that there is no legitimate public health justification for returning vulnerable people and returning them to danger. The Biden administration deported about 16,000 Haitians under Title 42, ignoring the fact that their home country is experiencing massive political upheaval and some of the worst violence in decades, Benoît said.

Despite being ordered to reinstate the MPP by a federal court last year, the Biden administration has opted to expand the policy beyond its original scope and apply it to asylum seekers from n any country in the Western Hemisphere, including Haiti.

President Biden was absolutely right when he said ‘Staying in Mexico’ is dangerous and inhumane and needs to end,” said Benoît. “It is outrageous that the administration has instead broadened the scope of this cruel policy.”

“These policies are cloaked in the language of protecting public health and protecting migrants, but actually put people at greater risk.”
– Gemma Domínguez, MSF general coordinator in Mexico

In several towns along Mexico’s northern border, MSF teams are providing medical care, psychosocial support, clean water and basic services to people trapped in miserable conditions.

In 2021, MSF conducted more than 29,000 medical, mental health and social work consultations for people on the move in Mexico. In more than 6,000 mental health consultations, MSF teams have worked with people suffering from generalized anxiety, depression, acute anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the violence endured in their country of origin. origin and along the migratory route.

“People continue to languish in makeshift camps awaiting their immigration hearings or without a clear path,” said Rodd Gerstenhaber, MSF head of mission for Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. “Many of our patients tell us that they braved this perilous journey only because they feared for their lives in their home country. For them, going back is not an option.

In 2021, in Mexico City, where MSF runs a center for victims of extreme violence and torture offering medical and mental health care and social services support, almost 60% of the 1,638 medical consultations carried out benefited women. . Also in Mexico City, nearly 800 of the 1,019 people referred by MSF to local social services were migrants from Haiti.

“These policies are masked by the language of protecting public health and protecting migrants, but actually put people at greater risk,” said Gemma Domínguez, general coordinator in Mexico. “Every day, our teams in Mexico see the human consequences of these unacceptable policies of deterrence.”

MSF reiterates its call on the Biden administration to keep its promises to build a humane immigration and asylum system that protects the lives and health of people forced from their homes. There is no excuse for continuing to abuse the Title 42 order to deport asylum seekers and block their right to seek protection; this administration must rescind this order immediately.

Administration officials have publicly acknowledged the MPP’s dire record, saying the policy imposes “substantial and unjustifiable human costs on people who have been exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico.” Given this grim reality, the Biden administration must now do everything in its power to end this policy.

“The MPP and Title 42 are fundamentally xenophobic policies that were designed to inflict suffering on people seeking asylum in the United States and deter others from even trying to seek protection here,” Benedict said. “The Biden administration has the power to end much of this suffering, but has chosen not to. We call on the Biden administration to respect that seeking safety is not a crime and to urgently begin the work of creating the humane asylum system it promised.