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Statement on One-Year Anniversary of MPP

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SILVER SPRING, Md. – One year ago today the Administration began implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or “Remain in Mexico” program, which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their court date in a United States immigration court. In the past year, MPP has expanded to six ports-of-entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, and led to the return of over 60,000 asylum seekers. 

“The Migrant Protection Protocols have created an avoidable humanitarian disaster for people fleeing violence and persecution in our region,” said HIAS Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Melanie Nezer. “We could be strengthening our asylum system, funding lawyers and judges, and allowing asylum seekers to wait in safety in the U.S. while their asylum cases are pending. Instead, our country has outsourced our humanitarian responsibilities and created refugee camps in Mexico that are dangerous, dirty, and no place for any human being to live.” 

Among the biggest legal challenges facing asylum seekers in Mexico lack of access to counsel and absence of information about the status of their legal cases in the U.S. HIAS provides legal advice, representation, as well as referrals to U.S. lawyers to asylum seekers waiting in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. HIAS has sent HIAS Border Fellows to El Paso and San Diego -- full-time immigration attorneys who help asylum seekers able to make it to the U.S.

In 2019, HIAS hosted 55 volunteers to serve asylum seekers in MPP. With the help of this volunteer network, HIAS has been able to screen nearly 850 asylum seekers, referring 80 individuals for legal representation with our partners in El Paso, many of whom were extremely vulnerable clients seeking release from the MPP program. With the support of pro bono attorneys volunteering at the border, HIAS has also been able to assist nearly 100 asylum seekers in preparing their applications for asylum in the U.S. 

Despite these efforts, the needs are enormous, and people are needlessly suffering. Visit HIAS’ Take Action page to learn about ways to support legislation and speak out on behalf of policies impacting asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. HIAS will continue to prioritize the protection and support of individuals seeking safety and protection in the United States while fighting back against any and all unfair and hurtful policies.

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