DHS rebuilds Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

Homeland Security announced Wednesday that it has formed a task force to “rebuild” the Remain in Mexico policy the Trump administration used to solve the last border surge — though the department said it needs Mexico‘s cooperation in order to move forward.

At the same time the Department said it still intends to issue a new memo canceling the policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, “in the coming weeks.”

The confusing — and seemingly conflicting — announcements come as Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tries to battle a court ruling that ordered him to re-start MPP. The judge said he must act in “good faith” to revive the program.

Under MPP, illegal immigrants are pushed back across the border into Mexico to wait for their immigration court dates in the U.S. The policy effectively denied them the foothold in the U.S. that they had sought, and Homeland Security says it was instrumental in solving the last surge.

Immigrant-rights activists complained that it sent migrants back to squalid and sometimes dangerous conditions in Mexico — and the Biden team agreed, issuing an early order halting the program. 

Mr. Mayorkas later issued a memo canceling it altogether, but a federal judge said he violated procedural law and ordered the program restarted.

Mr. Mayorkas’ critics have accused him of slow-walking the restoration, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the lawsuit, which asked the federal judge to step in and order the secretary to get a move on.

Wednesday’s announcement — an unsigned memo from the department — appears to be an attempt to placate the judge, while still making clear the Biden administration doesn’t want to see MPP revived.

“A new memorandum terminating MPP will not take effect until the current injunction is lifted by court order,” the announcement said. “In the meantime, while the court injunction remains in effect, the Department has been working in good faith to re-start MPP in compliance with the order, and it will continue to do so.”

The administration said it’s been holding “high-level diplomatic discussions with Mexico,” and has established the task force to “rebuild the infrastructure” of the program.

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