Legal assistance can be crucial to the success of all types of immigration proceedings. However, the Remain in Mexico program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, is beginning to lose support and assistance.[i] Certain legal aid groups along the border between Mexico and the United States are no longer willing to provide legal representation to migrants trying to enter the United States. Without this legal representation, many migrants will not have the opportunity to present effective arguments in favor of their cases for asylum.
What is the Remain in Mexico program?
The United States government introduced the Migrant Protection Protocols policy via memorandum on January 25, 2019.[ii] The policy itself requires those who seek asylum and arrive by land at the border between the United States and Mexico, who also complete a credible fear screening with a United States asylum officer, to return to Mexico until their asylum hearing. This asylum hearing will take place in a U.S. Immigration Court. The policy was instituted for a multitude of reasons, including the enforcement of immigration and customs laws, the facilitation of legal trade and travel, to counter traffickers, smugglers, and those involved in transnational criminal organizations, and to prevent drugs and illegal contraband from entering the United States border. The program is meant to help reinstate a secure and systematic immigration process for migrants entering the country, as well as ensuring that migrants receive the protections they need. The program was shut down temporarily during the Biden Administration and was restarted on December 2, 2021.