The IACHR expresses concern about the reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols that puts the rights to personal integrity and due process at risk

December 27, 2021

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Washington, DC- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses concern over the reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as "Remain in Mexico" since December 6. The Program, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) itself, puts the personal integrity of those who are in human mobility at risk, and according to international organizations, affects the right to due process and access to international protection mechanisms. Likewise, it urges the State to adopt, in its migration policies, laws, and border management measures an approach oriented to the comprehensive protection of the human rights of all people in the context of mobility.

The process of reinstatement of the Protocol was the result of a decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, according to official information of August 13, 2021, because the Court found that termination of the program was not done in accordance with the procedures provided in the country's legislation and ordered the State to "enforce and implement MPP in good faith." In addition, according to the memorandum Guidance Dec. 2 on the Court-Ordered Reimplementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols of the DHS announcing the reinstatement of the program, individuals from any country from the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Mexico, could be processed through it. This is worrying because the State would be expanding its reach to people of other nationalities that were not previously affected.

Termination of the Protocols had been announced in the DHS Memorandum, dated June 1, 2021, and, according to the State. According to the State, following a new thorough and rigorous review of the program, DHS made a new determination that the program is not in the best interests of the United States and should be terminated in its Memorandum of 29 October. In this context, the IACHR notes with concern that with respect to the previous iteration of MPP, DHS states: "the people who await their judicial hearings under the MPP have been subjected to extreme violence and insecurity by transnational criminal organizations that would benefit from the exploitation of the vulnerabilities of migrants." Furthermore, the Commission is concerned that the DHS has concluded, in its memorandum, that "no amount of resources can sufficiently solve" the problems inherent in the implementation of the MPP.

In this context, the IACHR highlights recent public statements from United Nations agencies, such as the statement from the International Organization for Migration, which urges the termination of the MPP Program as soon as possible. For his part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also expressed serious concern that the Protocols expose people on the move to risks, with an impact on the safety of asylum seekers and their rights to due process. Notably, UNHCR warns in its Communiqué that "the announced adjustments to the policy are not sufficient to address these fundamental concerns."

Subsequent to its visit to the southern border of the United States in 2019 and through its various monitoring mechanisms, the IACHR had already expressed concern that since its implementation in that year, the MPP have restricted the access to the territory and protection procedures, with serious impairment of due process. This is why in its Communiqué of June 25, 2021, it welcomed the termination of the Program and confirmed the effects to which migrants were subjected in the context of its operation. In addition, the IACHR received information from civil society organizations about the disproportionate impact of MPP on people in human mobility; as well as the impact of restrictive policies and of the lasting effects of zero-tolerance immigration policies of previous Administrations on access to rights and personal integrity of people in various contexts of human mobility, in at least three hearings focused on the subject during the year 2021, in its 180 and 181 sessions.

In addition to the foregoing, the IACHR reiterates that according to its Resolution 04/19 on the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of all Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Victims of Trafficking in Persons, States must adopt in their migration policies a look at the comprehensive protection of the human rights of people in mobility contexts. Likewise, it highlights the need to respect the principles of due process, guarantee non-refoulement, and establish mechanisms that consider the possibility of regularizing the immigration status of all people in human mobility, taking into account, among other things, the circumstances of their entry, and length of stay in the country.

Finally, the IACHR reminds the United States of the need to create and strengthen cooperation at the regional level to allow international human mobility to be carried out in a safe, regular, and orderly manner. Likewise, it urges the expansion of regular migration channels and protection strategies that consider the gender perspective, demographic reality, and the labor market, the right to family life, and its reinforced duty to respond to the needs of Migrants and those who are under the international protection regime and are in a situation of vulnerability.

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

No. 349/21

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