The Biden admin began the expansion of the revived “Remain in Mexico” program
The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program that was restarted at the El Paso port of entry in December has now been expanded to the San Diego-Tijuana region of the border. The first two migrants returned in that sector were sent back to Tijuana on January 5th. Over 200 migrants have been returned since the revival of the Trump-era program.
One of the concerns that the Biden administration has committed to improving with the new program is access to legal counsel. However, as the first hearings for MPP enrollees began last week, such representation remained dismally low. Yael Schacher reported that only 5 out of the 82 MPP enrollees who reported to court on January 3rd and 4th had an attorney present.
2021 saw five times as many displaced Mexican citizens as in 2020
The Mexican Commission for Defense and Promotion of Human Rights reported that 36,682 Mexicans were displaced from their homes due to violence in 2021 - a shocking increase from the 7,486 reported in 2020.
The majority of those displacements occurred in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan, and are attributed to ongoing violence between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and other criminal organizations.
This trend has been seen globally in recent years, as UNHCR cited 48 million internally displaced people as of the end of 2020.
The number of unaccompanied children in federal custody fell below 10,000
As the number of apprehensions of unaccompanied children dropped at the end of 2021, the total number of children in custody has fallen below 10,000. This is the lowest number of children in custody since the government began releasing this data in March 2021.
Meanwhile, approximately 250 of the original 1,450 unaccompanied children evacuated from Afghanistan remain in government custody. Many of these children were separated from their families in the chaos of the evacuation, and it is unclear if or when these children will be able to reunite with their parents. Some parents were left behind in Afghanistan, others were evacuated to another country, and the whereabouts of some are still unknown.
In more hopeful news, the baby who was photographed being passed over the gate to soldiers at the Kabul airport has been reunited with his grandparents. While he was separated from his parents, who were evacuated to the United States, the child was recently found living with a taxi driver who discovered him in the airport. He has now been returned to live with his extended family until reunification with his parents is possible.