Trump Administration Begins Placing Brazilians Under ‘Remain In Mexico’ Program

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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The Trump administration has expanded the “Remain in Mexico” program to include Brazilian nationals, the first non-Spanish speaking people placed under the program.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Wednesday that it expanded the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” to include Brazilian nationals. The directive has primarily focused on Spanish-speaking Central Americans; however, the number of Brazilians showing up at the U.S. southern border, DHS noted, has tripled in the last year.

The Remain in Mexico program, which the Trump administration rolled out in January 2019, requires foreign nationals seeking U.S. asylum at the southern border to wait in Mexico for the entire duration of their court proceedings. This policy largely eliminates the possibility of “catch and release,” where migrants claim asylum in the U.S and authorities release them into the interior of the country on the premise that they will return for their court date.

The Trump administration — including every top immigration official — has touted Remain in Mexico as an essential tool in stopping the flow of illegal immigration at the border. Border Patrol apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have, in fact, dropped precipitously in the past seven months.

Border Patrol agents keep watch during the official start for the construction of new bollard wall to replace 20-miles of primary vehicle barriers in Santa Teresa

Border Patrol agents keep watch during the official start for the construction of new bollard wall to replace 20-miles of primary vehicle barriers in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

The announcement that the administration would subject Brazilians to the program fell on the one-year anniversary of the first individual required to wait in Mexico under Migrant Protection Protocols.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of DHS, hailed the expansion as a “BIG” move.

“Today is the one-year anniversary of the first person actually waiting in Mexico under MPP, aka, the remain in Mexico program. And on today’s 1 year anniversary, the first Brazilians were returned to Mexico to await their U.S. Immigration hearing. Adding Brazilians is BIG!” Cuccinelli tweeted Wednesday.

“Illegal Brazilians coming across our border have tripled in the last year! So having an outlet for them to wait outside the U.S. for their immigration hearings is super-helpful! (thank you Mexico!) This is yet another extension of the many options developed under [President Donald Trump],” he added.

Remain in Mexico has prevented a high rate of inadmissible asylum seekers from entering the U.S.

Officials have placed over 50,000 foreign nationals under the program, and immigration judges have granted a small fraction asylum. The small acceptance rate is a reflection of the high number of asylum seekers who are not actually in need of protected status, but are simply economic migrants hoping to land employment in the U.S. (RELATED: Trump Admin To ‘Fully Implement’ Immigrant Public Charge Rule After Supreme Court Victory)

This is not the only area where Mexico has proven to be an exceptional partner in managing illegal immigration. The Mexican government has gone to great lengths to prevent a migrant caravan from passing though its territory in order to reach the U.S. border, marking a sharp break its past engagements with migrant caravans.

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