Editor’s note: When it comes to immigration – illegal or otherwise – the American people have a right to be concerned. Each week, Liberty Nation author Kelli Ballard examines a contentious issue related to today’s hottest topic.
The time for “catch and release” is coming to an end as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also fondly (or not) referred to as Remain-in-Mexico, go into effect at the end of January. MPP returns migrants whose home countries are south of the U.S. border to Mexico while they await their immigration hearings. This ends the practice of apprehending illegal immigrants and releasing them inside the United States while they wait to see a judge.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already started the program. In December, DHS began flights from Tucson, AZ, to Guadalajara. According to officials, the migrants relocated were Mexican nationals not from border Mexican states. They were either denied status in the United States and deemed deportable by an immigration judge or were recently caught entering the country illegally.
Sending Migrants Back to Mexico
DHS plans to have two flights a week and is expected to return about 250 migrants per week. Removing Mexican nationals, according to officials, is actually safer for them than remaining in the United States until their cases are determined. In this way, they can get services from the Mexican government, and returning people near their hometowns provides at least a familiar location while they await news of their immigration status.
MPP also is expected to help deter repeat offenders from trying to enter the United States illegally. Instead of being “released” inside the U.S. interior, aliens would have to travel hundreds of miles back to the border to cross back into American territory.
“This is another example of the Trump Administration working with the Government of Mexico to address the ongoing border security crisis,” DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift told Fox News. “Mexico has been a great partner in stopping illegal migration before they reach our border and in standing up the Migrant Protection Protocol which has allowed us to provide court dates to more than 55,000 individuals.”
A Second Chance
Mexico is not the only country the United States works with in terms of returning illegal immigrants or helping them seek asylum. Currently, there are pacts with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Migrants returned to Guatemala are given the chance to claim asylum. Chad Wolf, acting DHS secretary, said that 96 migrants to date have been flown to Guatemala; however, only one person has so far chosen to claim asylum.
Pro-migrant and human rights activists do not agree and argue the arrangements put immigrants in more danger, especially of kidnapping or other forms of violence. A legal challenge has been placed on the policy at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Despite protests, the program has contributed to a decline in apprehensions at the border; since May there has been a 70% drop. In December, 40,620 people were either turned away or apprehended at the border. This marks the seventh month of steady decreases since May, when that number had reached more than 144,000.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.