The Trump administration made major changes to long standing immigration and asylum protocols and practices. Among the changes was the implementation of the 2019 Migrant Protections Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as the “remain in Mexico” program. MPP required asylum seekers to reside in Mexico until their U.S. immigration court hearing. Asylum-seekers, including children, were forced to live in unstable and unsafe conditions. Families were separated and children were forced to endure unanticipated hardships and trauma. Using secondary data of child MPP enrollment from fiscal year (FY) 2019 through FY 2021 and letters from child MPP enrollees, this study explores the consequences and impact of MPP. This paper serves to contextualize the human toll that MPP took on an already vulnerable population.

Key Take Away Points

MPP is regarded as a humanitarian failure.

MPP highlights the shortcomings of widespread systemic issues in the U.S. asylum process.

Children’s routines and relationships were permanently disrupted because of MPP enrollment.

Author Biography

Dr. Mercedes Valadez is an Associate Professor in the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento. She earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice and minor in Political Science from California State University, Bakersfield, M.S. in Criminology and certificate of advanced studies in Homeland Security from California State University, Fresno, and Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Arizona State University. Her work investigates disparities and discrimination in criminal justice outcomes based on race/ethnicity, nationality, immigrant status, among other extra-legal characteristics.


I am grateful to my Pardee RAND program mentor, Douglas Ligor, for his invaluable support and advice on earlier drafts of this manuscript. I am also thankful to Dr. Tara Gray, Professor Noble, Jeffrey Hamlin, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments and feedback.