Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Remain in Mexico Program Continues Despite Legal Appeals; New Jersey Supporting Refugees from Afghanistan
Despite calls from the Biden administration to end the Migrant Protection Protocols program, more commonly known as the “MPP” or the “Remain in Mexico” program, the policy has continued to be used. It has now expanded from parts of Texas into the border areas near San Diego, California. The program keeps asylum seekers at the southern border waiting in Mexico while their cases make their way through the immigration court system, rather than permitting those individuals to reside in the U.S. while a decision is made.
In the beginning of this year, the Biden administration made efforts to end the program, which was formed and instituted by former president Trump. However, lawsuits were filed by both Texas and Missouri to force the continuation of MPP, and a federal judge directed the program to be reinstated. The Biden Administration is actively appealing these decisions, but must continue the program until those appeals have been adjudicated.
Since the policy was reimplemented last month, over 200 immigrants have been returned to Mexico. Biden administration officials indicated that despite the program’s continuance, attempts were underway to make the program more humanitarian for noncitizens awaiting their cases to proceed. Some of these humanitarian attempts included providing better access to legal counsel, both while in Mexico and while in the U.S., to prepare for court hearings, as well as transportation directly to shelters in Mexico. The Mexican government has also committed to providing better security at shelters housing undocumented individuals. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has recently brought more than 30 asylum seekers back into the United States for their immigration court hearings, the first to have hearings since the program’s reinstatement.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has made calls for the program’s end, saying it puts asylum seekers at risk and harms their due process rights.
Operation Allies from Afghanistan Welcomed by New Jersey Air Guard
Since August, members of the New Jersey National Guard Airmen from both the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing have supported Operation Allies Welcome at Liberty Village on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County, New Jersey. Operation Allies Welcome is a mission designed to help Afghan refugees by providing support for housing, medical attention, and assistance with their immigration applications to remain in the United States. This is a joint mission between several arms of the U.S. military, in which the N.J. Air National Guard works alongside the U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and other governmental agencies to support those fleeing life or death situations in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country.
The National Guard Airmen work throughout the village in various roles, from governor to logistical support. At “Liberty Village,” there is a system of governors, mayors, and elders created to provide more leadership structures for refugees that resemble political structures in Afghanistan and will help ease the transition into the United States. There are weekly townhall style meetings to address important issues in the village. Liberty Village is split into many smaller villages, each having morphed into a small town supporting a sizable population, sometimes over 7,000 Afghan refugees and several hundred military personnel.