IACHR Welcomes Termination of Migrant Protection Protocols and Calls on the United States of America to Adopt Immigration Policies That Incorporate a Human Rights Approach

June 25, 2021

Washington, D.C.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the decision of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to terminate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as "Remain in Mexico." In this regard, the IACHR urges the State to ensure that any migration and border management policies, laws, and measures that it adopts respect and guarantee the human rights of migrants, refugees, and those in need of protection.

Through its various monitoring mechanisms, the IACHR has been observing the human rights effects of the implementation of migration policies that have sought to dissuade irregular migration to the United States in recent years. These policies have entailed the adoption of measures seeking to securitize and outsource border control, the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy, and the criminalization of those who move outside regular points of entry to the territory. On this point, in the IACHR observations of September 16, 2019—which were made in the course of its visit to the southern US border—the IACHR underlined that such policies have resulted in a range of problematic issues, such as: i) the automatic use of migration detention, including of families, children, and adolescents; ii) turning people away at the border; iii) expedited deportation processes; and iv) limits on access to the territory and immigration, asylum, or protection procedures. On that occasion, the IACHR called on the State to bring its internal migration norms, policies, procedures, and protocols, particularly the MPPs, in line with international norms and standards on migration.

Consequently, the IACHR welcomes the DHS decision to terminate the MPPs immediately. According to the available information, on June 1, 2021, the US Secretary of Homeland Security issued a memorandum that also ordered the adoption of all measures needed to terminate the guidelines and other directives relating to the implementation of the MPPs, and it urged to continue working on the gradual strategy to allow the safe and orderly entry of the people enrolled in the MPPs.

In this regard, the IACHR notes that according to the memorandum in question, the Secretary of Homeland Security reportedly identified challenges in the implementation of the MPPs, such as: i) the difficulties faced by the people subject to these protocols in effectively accessing asylum and protection procedures in the United States; and ii) the obstacles faced regarding attending immigration proceedings and accessing other rights that may have resulted in applications for protection being abandoned. In this sense, the IACHR urges the States to allow asylum seekers to enter the territory and submit their application for the recognition of refugee status, in  keeping with their right to seek and receive asylum. The IACHR therefore urges the State to adopt policies or other measures aimed at providing comprehensive solutions for people who are outside the United States and have been affected by the MPPs. These measures should include a human rights approach based on an intersectional perspective and should provide comprehensive reparations in cases in which it is determined that human rights violations may have occurred.

In this context, the IACHR reiterates that as per Resolution 04/09 on the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Victims of Trafficking, States should adopt measures that contemplate the possibility of regularizing the status of irregular migrants. These should take into account the circumstances in which they enter the country, the length of their stay, and other relevant factors. Specifically, States should consider the best interests of children, their family situation, local ties, and humanitarian reasons, among other factors.

Finally, the IACHR reminds States that they must create and strengthen cooperation in the area of international migration to ensure it is carried out in a safe, regular, and orderly manner. Furthermore, it urges States in the region to adopt measures to prevent and eliminate irregular migration. This should be done by expanding regular migration channels, taking into account the gender perspective, demographic and labor market circumstances, facilitate educational mobility, heed the right to family life and respond to the needs of migrants and persons subject to international protection who are in a vulnerable situation.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 158/21