SAN DIEGO – Today, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate an order that guaranteed access to counsel to people seeking asylum who were forced to remain in Mexico under the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and who undergo interviews about their fear of being in Mexico. The court issued the order, also known as a preliminary injunction, in January 2020 as part of Doe v. Wolf, a class action lawsuit before the Southern District of California.
The Ninth Circuit vacated the Doe v. Wolf injunction after the Biden administration officially ended MPP on June 1, 2021. However, last month, a federal district court in Texas barred the government from ending MPP and ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to restart it “in good faith.” Today’s ACLUF-SDIC filing argues that in light of these developments, the injunction guaranteeing access to counsel is once again necessary.
“Today, we asked the court to reinstate protections the court already recognized are required for people subject to the horrifying Remain in Mexico policy. But let us be clear that DHS can and must act quickly to ensure this program never puts another person in harm’s way,” said Monika Y. Langarica, ACLU-SDIC immigrants’ rights staff attorney. “Separate from the filing, we are calling on the administration to take all actions available to it, including re-terminating MPP and declining, under any circumstances, to reimplement it, and immediately rescinding all other policies that obstruct access to asylum at the southern border.”
Under MPP, tens of thousands of people who sought refuge in the United States were forced to return to Mexico while their immigration cases were processed. MPP, which started under the Trump administration, exposed these individuals and families to dangerous conditions, including kidnappings, rape and murder. The injunction ensured people who feared persecution or torture in Mexico had access to their lawyers in preparation for and during interviews that decided if they would be forced to continue in the MPP program.