Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the Biden administration’s immediate suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)—better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. MSF medical teams have witnessed firsthand the harmful impacts of MPP on our patients trapped in danger.
Statement from Avril Benoît, Executive Director, MSF-USA
Having witnessed firsthand the harms of MPP on our patients, MSF welcomes its suspension, and we hope to see broad and humane reforms in US policy toward asylum seekers and migrants.
MPP forced at least 60,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico to await their hearings since February 2019. These people had hoped to find safety and protection in the US after suffering violence, extortion, or kidnapping in their home countries or on their way through Mexico. Instead, they have waited for months—others for more than a year—in makeshift tent camps along the Rio Grande in dangerous border cities such as Matamoros, Reynosa, and Nuevo Laredo. They are living in flimsy tents, unable to practice social distancing or isolate when needed. They have limited access to water and sanitation or routine medical care.
The administration should rapidly and completely phase out MPP, and urgently create a streamlined process for allowing asylum seekers to enter the US and pursue their asylum claims while in the country. The administration must also deploy the necessary resources to boost the response to the humanitarian crisis at the US southern border caused by years of migration policy based on deterrence, criminalization, and containment.
Since MPP was implemented, MSF has provided comprehensive health services for asylum seekers and people deported from the US in Matamoros, Reynosa, and Nuevo Laredo. In Matamoros, in a camp on the US-Mexico border, MSF provided 735 mental health consultations and 843 medical consultations from March to June 2020.