The activists accused the Biden administration of playing politics with immigrant lives.
Dozens of immigration activists walked out on a digital meeting with White House officials, upset at the Biden administration’s plans to re-instate and continue former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.
The so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, was a Trump-era policy which required asylum-seekers to stay on the Mexican side of the border while waiting for their cases to be heard. Activists criticized the policy as inhumane, saying that migrants are often victimized by organized criminal syndicates in Mexico.
Although President Joe Biden rescinded the MPP shortly after taking office, Texas and Missouri filed a lawsuit against the administration’s decision. In August, a Texas court ordered that the “Remain in Mexico” policy shall remain in place pending the lawsuit’s outcome.
“[The Department of Homeland Security] is taking necessary steps to comply with the court order, which requires us to reimplement MPP in good faith,” an agency spokesperson said. “We are working to do so, despite our appeal of the court’s order.”
But, according to Politico, immigration activists said they feel betrayed by the Biden administration, which has promised reform but clung to many of Trump’s stringent practices.
“I cannot stand one more meeting of them pretending,” Colores United activist Ariana Saludares told Politico. “They give us accolades on the outside, but on the inside, we’re having to take out the metaphoric knives from our back.”
The activists, adds Fox News, had requested a meeting with Biden administration figures, including officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the White House Domestic Policy Council.
In the virtual meeting, immigration advocates read a prepared statement accusing the Biden administration of “playing politics with human lives.” They then said that they can no longer continue conversations about policy reform in “good conscience.”
“We have sadly reached a turning point,” they said, before leaving the meeting.
However, Politico notes that the Biden administration has been—at least in part—compelled to bring back “Remain in Mexico,” after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling.
“The Biden Administration has been very clear that [the Migrant Protection Protocol] is not an immigration policy we agree with or support,” the White House told Politico. “That’s why the Department of Homeland Security immediately appealed the court injunction once it was ordered.”
Nevertheless, immigration activists believe that the Biden administration has not put an honest effort into reform.
“I think they’re afraid of the backlash of anti-immigrant groups, and we’ll continue to remind them that that backlash will exist regardless of what they do,” said Catholic Legal Immigration Network strategic officer Luis Guerra. “We don’t actually believe they’re doing everything in their power to actually restore asylum at the border, the way that they say that they’re trying to.”