From Michael Hopkins, CEO
The Biden-Harris Administration made a promise to terminate the inhumane border policies it inherited, and that promise has been broken with the plan to reinstitute “Remain in Mexico.” The Biden-Harris Administration is upending protections for vulnerable people who are desperately looking for safety.
With tens of thousands of lives at stake, the time is now to rebuild our nation’s broken immigration system by allowing people to seek international protection in the U.S. The President must terminate the cruel and inhumane Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
To the Biden-Harris Administration: It is time to keep your promises by Building Back Better, not Worse, at the U.S.-Mexico border. As legal service providers and immigration advocates, the Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) team engaged in policy work with the White House to ensure the smooth wind-down of MPP. Never did we think that the plan would be to reinstate this inhumane program. There is no way that MPP can operate safely. By definition it disregards due process, international law, and ongoing public health and safety recommendations.
We will continue “Welcoming the Stranger,” regardless of the harmful border policies instituted, as part of JFS’s commitment to ensure that vulnerable families and individuals are able to assert their legal right to asylum in the U.S. with safety and dignity. We look forward to the Biden- Harris Administration doing the same.
Since the program’s inception in 2018, JFS has seen first-hand the mental and physical toll MPP has placed on more than 70,000 migrants – including pregnant women, families with young children, and vulnerable populations already traumatized by the violence and persecution they fled. Because of U.S. border policies such as MPP, they have been forced to live in dangerous living conditions, deprived of the protection they deserve, and blocked from accessing critical resources, such as legal assistance.
JFS is one of the few legal service providers in the southern border region that has been providing critical assistance to individuals and families impacted by MPP since its inception. JFS was proud to play a central role in the wind-down that began earlier this year, through which those formerly enrolled in MPP were allowed their legal right to seek asylum while in the U.S.
Since February 19, 2021, JFS has assisted 2,694 individuals who had been enrolled into MPP. These individuals are a subset of the more than 48,000 asylum seekers welcomed through the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services since October 2018.
As part of its ongoing efforts to end MPP, JFS is an organizational plaintiff in Immigrant Defenders Law Center, et al. v. Mayorkas. The lawsuit was filed by six asylum-seeking individuals subjected to MPP, alongside Immigrant Defenders Law Center and JFS.
Together, with the 65-plus organizations in the California Welcoming Task Force, JFS will continue to make public health the priority for our community, staff and asylum-seeking individuals and work toward creating a humane immigration system that prioritizes compassion and safety. In this moment, the only way to do that is for the Biden Administration to reissue its MPP termination memo in order to provide a clear path to ending MPP.
Continuing to “Welcome the Stranger” is only possible with community support at rapidresponsesd.org. Visit jfssd.org for available job positions and in-person volunteer opportunities to support this work.