December 1, 2021

Immigration advocates abandon virtual meeting with Biden administration officials

A sizable group of immigration advocates took the dramatic step of walking out of a virtual meeting with White House officials on Saturday in frustration with the Biden administration’s declared plan to restart the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, as Politico reports.

At the start of the video conference with administration representatives, including some from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as well as Esther Olavarria of the White House Domestic Policy Council, the advocates requested time to deliver a prepared statement in which they railed against what they view as a continued practice of “playing politics with human lives.”

Amid recent news reports that Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy,” also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), would be reinstated by the administration following a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court ordering that outcome, the group declared that its members could not “come into these conversations in good conscience” any longer.

Though President Joe Biden took steps to reverse the MPP almost immediately upon taking office in January, the move was struck down by a federal court in response to a lawsuit filed by the states of Missouri and Texas, and the Supreme Court recently declined to stand in the way of the policy’s reinstatement pending final resolution of the litigation.

In reaction to that legal reality, the Biden administration revealed its plan to put the policy back into place next month, even while continuing its battle to permanently end the protocols – which require migrants to stay in Mexico while their asylum claims are adjudicated – by other means.

Just before a majority of the immigrant advocates took leave of the meeting, they said via the prepared remarks, “We have sadly reached a turning point.”

Explaining the group’s decision to walk out of the virtual discussion, Ariana Saludares of Colores United said, “I cannot stand one more meeting of them pretending. They give us accolades on the outside, but on the inside, we’re having to take out the metaphoric knives from our back,” Politico noted.

The outlet added that while news about the MPP’s reinstatement may have been the tipping point on Saturday, immigration activists have been harboring concerns for some time that the Biden administration’s decisions in this realm are guided more by politics than by concerns for the well-being of those they represent.

While the fact that the Biden administration has been compelled to take one key step in combating unchecked immigration is a positive sign, the the truth is – as one White House official told Politico – “the MPP is not an immigration policy we agree with or support,” and it remains far from certain that any substantive course correction from this president on this issue is on the cards.

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