American Oversight sued the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday to compel the release of records related to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy that required asylum-seekers who arrived at the southern border to return to Mexico to wait for their claim to be processed.
Also known as the “remain in Mexico” policy, this program forced more than 71,000 asylum-seekers, including children, into dangerous migrant camps along the border, where access to legal representation is severely limited.
The Biden administration formally ended the program and has begun accepting unaccompanied children, but tens of thousands of asylum-seekers in Mexico are still waiting for their day in court. And under Title 42, a policy spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of adult asylum-seekers continue to be turned away at the border.
Today’s lawsuit comes after DHS implausibly claimed that it had no records responsive to American Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act requests for legal analyses, reports, briefing documents, or communications from DHS leaders related to the creation or implementation of the program. We also requested records of email communications between top officials and representatives of anti-immigration groups, including the Center for Immigration Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“The chaos and inhumane conditions created by the Migrant Protection Protocols were a part of the Trump administration’s plan to use cruelty to deter asylum-seekers from pursuing the asylum system,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “The Trump administration may have ended, but the officials responsible for this cruelty must still be held accountable for the harm they caused.”
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