MPP restarts today
Last week, DHS announced that the reimplementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) would begin Monday, December 6th. After a smaller initial rollout, the program is expected to be implemented at seven ports of entry: San Diego, Calexico, Nogales, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo, and Brownsville.
While the Trump-era version of the program was only applied to those from Spanish-speaking countries or Brazil, the revised program will apply to anyone whose country of origin is in the Western Hemisphere, with exemptions for those from Mexico and other defined groups. Those exemptions include unaccompanied children, those with lawful permanent residency, and those with certain “vulnerabilities” (such as physical or mental health issues that could affect their “fitness for travel”), those who are vulnerable due to advanced age, and those who face increased risk in Mexico due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
COVID-19 vaccines will be provided for those enrolled in the program who are eligible, and proof of vaccination will be required to re-enter the U.S. Other protective measures include shortened wait times where cases should be closed within 180 days, asking asylum seekers if they fear return to Mexico, and allowing asylum seekers to speak with an attorney before their screenings and court hearings.
The memo also includes guidance on Title 42, which remains in effect and allows border officials to rapidly expel migrants at the border under the public health policy. It’s noted that Title 42 will continue to be used, and that it will take precedence as those who “are not covered by the CDC order” will be processed using MPP. After the latest review of the Title 42 policy, the CDC told reporters that the “CDC conducted the 60-day assessment at the end of November and the Order stands.”
While the program reimplementation is following a court order, it is not without controversy. In a December 2 statement, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released a statement of their concerns with the program and stated that “the announced adjustments to the policy are not sufficient to address these fundamental concerns.”
The number of immigrants in detention centers has increased by 56% this year
Despite a change in enforcement priorities implemented by the Biden administration earlier this year, the number of immigrants in detention centers across the U.S. has grown significantly since he took office. There were over 22,000 people in detention centers as of October 1, an increase of 56% since January. While some of this can be attributed to easing restrictions around the pandemic, which had greatly reduced the number of detainees in 2020, it’s significant to note that 75% of those detained in ICE detention centers have no criminal record.