Immigrant Rights Advocates Cheer End of ‘Remain in Mexico,’ Demand More Relief

Jun 30, 2022
4:45 PM

In this July 5, 2021 photo, Honduran Alex Cortillo, left, and his stepbrother pull their suitcases to the border crossing into the U.S. to begin the asylum process, in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Pleased by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that sided with President Biden’s move to end the “Remain in Mexico” policy, immigrant advocacy groups took a moment to celebrate but are calling for more immigrant relief.

“This welcome ruling will not change reality overnight for the 70,000-plus asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico border cities where they are not safe,” said Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas, in a statement.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva said the same on Twitter, tweeting that “SCOTUS’ decision to allow the Biden administration to end Remain in Mexico is a relief from the week of unprecedented cases, but this does not change the fact that thousands of migrants remain exposed to dangerous conditions as a result of this cruel policy.”

A legacy of the Trump administration, the policy forced asylum-seekers to await the results of their removal proceedings in Mexico. President Joe Biden attempted to end the program on his first day in office but was challenged in court by Texas and Missouri.

With the Supreme Court ruling 5-4, Biden now has the clearance to end the policy.

“The fundamental aim of ‘Remain in Mexico’ was to punish asylum seekers for exercising their right to seek protection by making it too miserable and dangerous for them,” said Yanira Arias, national campaigns manager at Alianza Americas.

Since the Remain in Mexico policy was reinstated in December, the U.S. has enrolled at least an additional 4,076 asylum-seekers in the program, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

In light of the Supreme Court ending the policy, Fernando García, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights, said in a statement that now is the time for Congress to also get rid of Title 42 and “provide a solution to the weakened asylum system in place, to provide a humane and fair alternative to vulnerable children, families and individuals fleeing unsafe conditions and persecution in their home countries.”

Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) called the Remain in Mexico policy “cruel” on Twitter. He also wrote that the deaths of migrants in San Antonio “underscores further steps needed to end Title 42 and other cruel policies of the previous administration that limit the legal right to seek asylum.”

Alianza Americas, a coalition made up of 58 migrant-led organizations in 18 states, recognized the Supreme Court’s decision as a hopeful moment but also called attention to Title 42. Last Friday, members of the House Committee on Appropriations voted to extend Title 42 expulsions for six months after the COVID-19 emergency declaration is lifted.

The group is concerned the House members will vote on an amendment to keep Title 42 in place indefinitely.

Gladis Molina Alt, executive director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, urged President Biden to take immediate action after the Supreme Court’s decision and terminate the Remain in Mexico policy. She also called on the Biden administration to carry the momentum forward toward ending Title 42.

“It is imperative that the Biden Administration equally prioritize reuniting families who were cruelly forced to separate under this policy and providing widespread access to trauma-informed, culturally inclusive resources for all who have been deeply harmed by this inhumane policy,” Molina said in a statement.

While immigrant advocates are pushing to end Title 42, a majority of Americans support continuing the order, according to a POLITICO-Harvard poll.


Chantal Vaca is a summer correspondent for Futuro Media based in New York City and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Twitter: @VacaChantal