EDINBURG — Border Patrol officials who spoke to Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Chip Roy told them there is no progress on the court-ordered re-implementation of a Trump-era program known as Remain in Mexico, the senator said here at a news conference Wednesday.
Cruz and Roy visited the Rio Grande Valley as part of a tour of the border and regions affected by the activity along the border.
On Wednesday, they received a briefing at the Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector headquarters in Edinburg to hear about the challenges agents in the region face as a result of an increase in migrants they encounter.
“As we met with the leadership of Border Patrol, we asked what have you done to comply with the order? They said, ‘nothing,’” Cruz said. “They said they were instructed to do nothing. Their political leadership instructed them to do nothing.”
The Remain in Mexico policy formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols was formed under the Trump administration as a migration deterrent tool that forced migrants to wait out their U.S. court hearings in Mexico.
On Jan. 20, his first day in office, President Joe Biden stopped its implementation, but a federal court is forcing them to reinstate it.
Although the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, last week the court said the Biden administration likely violated federal law in trying to end it. They must now make a “good faith” effort to start the program again.
The program led to thousands experiencing violence as they waited for their court hearings in Mexico. Many were required to walk at night through border cities considered dangerous by the U.S. State Department.
Almost a week after the federal court order, Cruz said the administration is delaying to restart it.
“Slow-playing is an old Washington game, and every indication we’re getting is that what Washington is doing, is slow playing,” Cruz said.
Reluctance in Mexico’s participation to take migrants sent back to Mexico already lagged significantly since July. Currently, the U.S. is sending thousands of migrants back under a federal public health code known as Title 42.
To date, they’ve turned back nearly 1,070,000 migrants since they implemented the practice in March 2020. However, the number of families returned under that policy has decreased significantly.
Since March, there’s been a sharp decline in migrant families sent back to Mexico. Instead, thousands started to get released in the U.S.
Mexico’s reluctance continued through July when only 22% of migrant families who crossed were sent back under Title 42.
Although U.S. federal courts can instruct the Biden administration to start MPP, or Remain in Mexico, they cannot force Mexico to participate.
Cruz said he has not engaged in any conversations with Mexican counterparts on the topic, but he believes the U.S. could strong-arm Mexico into cooperation like Trump did when he started it in 2018.
“In particular, President Trump threatened to impose 25% tariffs which would have a massive economic impact on Mexico. That threat got their attention,” Cruz said. “Absent that threat, there’s no way they would have agreed to it.”
The Trump administration announced their decision Dec. 20, 2018, with a joint statement from Mexico agreeing to their participation, but it took over a month for the Department of Homeland Security to issue a policy guidance on Jan. 25, 2019.