‘Remain in Mexico:’ Is Biden right to reimplement Trump policy?


Fact Box

  • On October 14, 2021, The Biden administration announced the November reinstatement of former President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that forced asylum seekers to stay in Mexico during court hearings. 
  • On August 24, 2021, the Supreme Court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the Trump-era policy after the Justice Department had tried to delay the policy based on a “diplomatic and humanitarian crisis.”
  • On January 20, 2021, President Biden terminated wall construction at the Southern Border. He also revoked Trump’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy to reinstate “catch-and-release,” where migrants entering unlawfully, though caught by authorities, are released into the American interior while awaiting processing. 
  • Under President Trump’s administration, more than “450 miles” were added to the 2,000 mile border, and amounted to $6 billion of the $11 billion originally assigned to the project. 
  • US Customs and Border Protection reported the number of migrant apprehensions reached a 21-year-record high of 213,534 in July 2021. August has seen a slight drop of 208,887 migrant encounters.

Tyler (No)

Joe Biden’s decision to re-implement Donald Trump’s “Remain In Mexico” immigration policy further validates this president’s opportunistic nature. Despite portraying an open-arms approach toward immigrants prior to his presidency, Biden is reverting to the discriminatory habits of the previous administration. 

Aside from the morality of the issue, Biden expressed that he would welcome asylum seekers throughout his presidential campaign. Earlier this year, Biden unveiled plans to do away with the “Remain In Mexico” plan, with an estimated 25,000 Mexican asylum seekers expected to enter the United States. Biden originally suspended the plan upon his inauguration, therefore his recent decision was a surprise to Mexican families planning to wait in the United States as their future was being determined. 

Policies like this explain why there are Mexican families who have been awaiting to legally enter the United States since the early 1990s. Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, legal immigration decreased by 49%. In 2019, 65,000 out of 1.4 million applicants were granted entry to the United States. While also harshly enforcing consequences toward illegal immigrants, the nation appears to be constructing legislation to halt immigration even further. 

These people are seeking asylum for a reason, whether they are displaced or in danger. Allowing these asylum seekers to remain in the United States would generate a sense of urgency for the government to actually make a decision, rather than keeping them waiting in Mexico for 20 years. The plan would force them to remain in their home nations that they are attempting to urgently escape, defeating the purpose.

Noah (Yes)

Most Americans agree immigration reform is needed, although most do not agree on the reform policies itself. 55% of Republicans and 56% of Democrats want immigration reform. For the past year, we have had a crisis at our southern border, and immigration has become exponentially more complicated with COVID-19. COVID-19 cases are higher among migrants with 18% of migrant families testing positive and 20% of minors testing positive for the virus. If tested positive, they receive a hotel room and quarantine inside the US until they test negative and are deported. While this is not happening in relatively high numbers under Title 42, it would end completely under the ‘Remain in Mexico policy’.

The ‘Remain in Mexico policy’ strategically required “asylum seekers at the southern border to stay in Mexico while they await hearings in US courtrooms to determine their eligibility and status.” This policy was necessary to enforce our rule of law by not incentivizing illegal immigration that overruns our immigration system.

Immigrants caught illegally crossing the southern border should be kept in Mexico until their hearing. Anyone wanting to immigrate to the US must do so legally so as not to overwhelm our already overwhelmed immigration system. With the US immigration court backlog being at an all-time high, it could be months and possibly years before migrant cases are heard. While immigrants coming to the US may come from terrible situations, cutting in line in front of those who have been following our process legally is not right.

Without strong policies and stances on immigration, it sends the message to other potential immigrants that our border is open and they are entitled to enter illegally. The huge spikes seen throughout Biden’s first year as President alone demonstrates as much.

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