2 December 2021 - Mexico, United States

Save the Children: Reinstatement of ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program Puts Children at Harm

“We must ensure asylum-seeking children and families are treated as human beings, with dignity and respect. This begins with ending MPP, once and for all.”

Save the Children is concerned by today’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decision to restart the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), more commonly known as the Remain in Mexico program. This program requires asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S.-southern border to wait in Mexico until their asylum cases can be heard, a process that often takes months. While waiting in Mexico, the mental and physical safety and well-being of asylum-seeking children is threatened, with limited availability of shelter, security or education.

“It is distressing to see this flawed program reinstated while its long-term fate is still being decided by U.S. courts. For years, Save the Children has shed light on the deeply flawed nature of MPP, which very clearly puts children and families at risk of harm and limits their access to long-standing legal protections,” said Janti Soeripto, President and CEO of Save the Children U.S. “This country – together with Mexico – must ensure asylum-seeking children and families are treated as human beings, with dignity and respect. This begins with ending MPP, once and for all. We must remember that asylum-seeking children are escaping violence and extreme poverty in their own countries – the same harsh and dangerous conditions often found in the border cities the U.S. government is knowingly and willingly forcing them to wait in. Children deserve better from this country, and must be protected at each step of the asylum process.”

“We have spoken to many children who have told us of the emotional stress this program has caused them. One child detailed how he and his family fled to the U.S. after being kidnapped in Honduras. When they arrived at the border, they willingly gave themselves into the custody and safety of U.S. immigration officials, only to be sent to Mexico. Another child heartbreakingly told us how he ‘spent three days alone crying’ after being separated from his family before being sent back to Mexico,” said María Josefina Menéndez, CEO of Save the Children Mexico. “Such treatment is unacceptable. The U.S. and Mexico must work together to ensure the safety of returned children. Mexico, alone, cannot bear the asylum responsibilities of both countries.”

Save the Children – together with its political advocacy arm Save the Children Action Network – will continue to advocate on behalf of all asylum-seeking children and families, and work with the Biden administration and relevant government agencies to ensure they are treated legally and humanely, with dignity and respect.

Save the Children Mexico has supported 20,000 children and their families in 42 shelters in the country, and will continue to provide humanitarian aid to thousands of children and their families who remain in Mexico.

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