Between January 2019 and January 2021, the Trump administration forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants, including at least 16,000 children and nearly 500 infants under the age of one, to return to Mexico under the “Migrant Protection Protocols”—better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
In Mexico, waiting months for immigration court hearings in the United States, these families and other returned asylum seekers and migrants face grave dangers. As of February 19, 2021, there were at least 1,544 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, and other violent assaults against asylum seekers and migrants forced to return to Mexico by the Trump administration under this illegal scheme. Among these reported attacks are 341 cases of children returned to Mexico who were kidnapped or nearly kidnapped.
In February 2021, the Biden administration suspended use of "Remain in Mexico" to return additional asylum seekers and migrants to Mexico and began a process to wind down the policy, which resulted in more than 12,000 people removed from the program and permitted to enter the United States to continue the U.S. asylum process in safety. At the same time, however, the Biden administration continued to use the Trump administration's Title 42 policy - based on specious public health claims about the pandemic - to block people coming to the U.S. border in search of safety and expel them to Mexico and/or directly to the country they were fleeing without an opportunity to request asylum.
Following a memo issued by the Biden administration in June 2021, Texas and Missouri challenged the administration's attempt to formally end the "Remain in Mexico" policy. After a series of federal court decisions that have paused the formal termination and re-termination of the "Remain in Mexico" policy, the Biden administration announced in December 2021 that it would re-implement and, reportedly, had chosen to expand the return policy in some ways to force migrants and asylum seekers from anywhere in the "Western Hemisphere" to wait in danger in Mexico - while it also continued to use Title 42 to illegally expel asylum seekers.