December 8, 2021
On December 2, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) would be reinstated starting December 6, 2021.
MPP had originally been terminated via a memorandum from Secretary of Homeland Security, Alexander Mayorkas, in June 2021. In August 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas determined the memorandum was not issued in compliance with federal law and enjoined the termination of MPP. While the government is appealing the district court’s ruling, it must also reinstate MPP under the court’s order, with the reinstatement beginning December 6, 2021.
The new version of the MPP has many changes from the original policy. MPP enrollees will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination as being vaccinated will be required for migrants to re-enter the U.S. to attend their hearings. MPP also aims to enroll migrants in MPP only at a rate in which court dates can happen for migrants within 6 months of their enrollment in MP.
Further, certain individuals will be protected from enrollment in MPP, including those with “particular vulnerabilities” that include mental and physical health issues, advanced age, and those at an increased risk of harm in Mexico due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. CBP must also proactively ask migrants whether they fear return to Mexico, with which an affirmative answer form the migrant would result in a non-refoulement interview that could exempt them from MPP if they establish a reasonable possibility of persecution on account of a statutorily protected ground. Lastly, the new guidance aims to prioritize family unity by enacting a policy wherein if any member of a family unit in MPP is exempt from enrollment, the entire family will be exempt from MPP.