Mayorkas admits Remain in Mexico policy works but administration launches second attempt to end it

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Biden administration is making a second attempt at eliminating a Trump-era agreement with Mexico that proved to slow the flow of illegal migrants crossing the southern border. The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the Remain in Mexico policy, is to be reinstated in November under a court order.

Joe Biden eliminated the Remain in Mexico policy as one of his first acts as president. With the sweep of a pen, Biden busily ended as much of the previous administration’s policies and agreements with Mexico as possible. Biden ran on eliminating border security measures, essentially caving to progressive activists who demand open borders. His actions caused the Biden border crisis we now see, with hundreds of thousands of migrants flooding the southern border with impunity. Mexico decided to go along with ending the agreement put in place with the Trump administration which allowed migrants to remain in Mexico, just across the border from the United States, while they processed asylum claims. It was a way to way to alleviate the overburdened border communities on the U.S. side of the border.

Biden’s action to eliminate the program made its way through the court system. In August the Supreme Court ruled that the administration must revive the program. The administration has a deadline in November to fully reinstate the program. The administration claims it has been working to fully reinstate the program since the ruling but that Mexican officials are not fully on board yet.

The kicker is that DHS Secretary Mayorkas admits that the Remain in Mexico policy works. The criticism comes in as he describes the details of how the migrants are treated and the conditions in which they live while waiting for their asylum claim to be heard by an immigration judge. Mayorkas is doing a sort of good cop-bad cop routine here. He doesn’t want to defy the Supreme Court ruling but he wants to object with emotional reasoning, it would appear. Mayorkas released a 40-page memo on Friday which he hopes makes the argument that the program should be permanently suspended.

“I have concluded that there are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, wrote in the new justification for ending the program, released on Friday.

While the administration is still following the court order to restart the program, it is hoping that the new memo addresses the issues raised by a federal judge in Texas, who ruled in August that the seven-page justification Mr. Mayorkas provided in June for ending the program was “arbitrary and capricious.” The new justification, which includes a summary and a detailed explanation, is more than 40 pages.

Condemning the program while simultaneously having to put plans in place to restart it illustrates how difficult it has been for the Biden administration to fulfill one of President Biden’s biggest campaign promises: reversing some of the restrictive immigration policies put in place by former President Donald J. Trump.

The M.P.P. program, also referred to as Remain in Mexico, “had endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and did not address the root causes of irregular migration,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement Friday, adding it “fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that individuals deserve under the law.”

So, yes the program works but the Biden administration thinks it’s mean, or something. Mayorkas wants it both ways. He wants to fulfill the Supreme Court’s ruling to restart the program while he still tries to appease the open borders activists who accuse Biden of continuing too many of Trump’s policies. The only policy still largely in effect from the previous administration is Title 42, which allows immediate expulsions due to public health concerns. The Biden border crisis is both a humanitarian crisis and a public health crisis.

When the Supreme Court ruled, it left an opening for the administration to try again to justify eliminating the policy. That is what the memo from Mayorkas is, the administration’s second attempt to provide more details about its objections and reasons for them. The court ordered reinstatement by mid-November.

Pro-open borders allies of the Biden administration say Friday’s opinion was overdue. They accuse Mayorkas of slow-walking the memo. There are also concerns about legal representation for illegal migrants, a sticking point with Mexican officials.

Many U.S.-based legal aid groups who have represented asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico say they will no longer take such cases, raising questions about how the U.S. can satisfy Mexico’s insistence on better access to counsel. Administration officials say they believe there are enough other lawyers who will represent asylum-seekers sent back to Mexico.

Mayorkas points to mixed effectiveness with the program. But, as we’ve all seen, without the program there is 100% failure in helping to ease the overcrowding and depletion of resources in border communities. The most recent example is the chaos in Del Rio. Tens of thousands of illegal migrants were housed under the International Bridge due to a lack of space to put them elsewhere. We’ll see how far Mayorkas’ new memo gets. It sure looks like a passive-aggressive attempt to get out of reinstating a successful program just to appease progressive activists. That is the Biden administration’s operating strategy for most things and it is why our country is in the mess we are in. Thanks, Joe.