Information about Seeking Asylum at the Mexico-U.S. Border

Last Updated: April 7, 2021

This is a short update on two policies that have impacted asylum seekers arriving at the border: (1) Title 42, and (2) “Remain in Mexico,” also known as the MPP program. First, we will explain the two policies. Then, we will provide a list of some organizations working at the Mexico-U.S. border. You can contact these organizations if you have questions.

Is the border open to asylum seekers?

Unfortunately, no. The U.S. government is denying entry to many people who are seeking asylum, including children, adults, and families. Many asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico or their countries of origin under a policy called Title 42.

However, the government announced that unaccompanied children would be treated differently at the border. Some children who cross the border without their parents or a legal guardian may be able to stay and seek asylum.

What is Title 42? 

Last year, in March 2020, the U.S. government closed the Mexico-U.S. border to asylum seekers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This policy is known as Title 42. This closure affected the majority of asylum seekers who were trying to enter the United States. Many were returned to Mexico or their countries of origin.

Is Title 42 still affecting asylum seekers approaching the Mexico-U.S. border today? 

Yes, the Mexico-U.S. border remains mostly closed under Title 42 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many adults and families are STILL being returned to Mexico or their home countries when they arrive at the border, regardless of whether they are seeking asylum. However, there is an official exception to Title 42 for unaccompanied children.

When will Title 42 end? 

We do not know! Things are changing constantly and it can vary depending on your location at the border. It may be helpful to contact organizations working at the border to learn the latest updates. Many people and organizations are working to fight against the unjust policies at the border. We have listed some of those organizations below.

What is the MPP program?

The MPP program was announced by the U.S. government in late 2018. MPP stands for “Migrant Protection Protocols” and is also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. Under MPP, certain people who applied for asylum at the border were returned to Mexico while fighting their asylum case in the United States. They were told to wait in Mexico for their immigration court hearings within the United States, and in most cases, they were returned to Mexico after each hearing. Many asylum seekers who were put into the MPP program are still in Mexico.

Did MPP end?

Yes, but the process of ending MPP is gradual. The U.S. government is no longer putting new asylum seekers in the MPP program. And on February 19, 2021, the U.S. government began allowing some asylum seekers who had been waiting in Mexico under the MPP program to enter the United States. You can read more here. 

Resources: 

ASAP compiled this list of organizations providing assistance at the Mexico-U.S. border over the past few months, but it is likely incomplete. We hope it can be a starting point for asylum seekers to seek more information.

General assistance for individuals at the border:

Help for unaccompanied children:

Organizations on the Border (By City):

  • HIAS in Mexico
    • Ciudad Juárez: 656 202 3628 or 656 556 5473
    • Matamoros: 811 508 7398 or 811 508 7732
    • Mexicali: 686 339 4323 or 686 383 1855
    • Monterrey: 811 185 1703 or 811 490 4996
    • Nuevo Laredo: 812 416 2731
    • Reynosa: 811-465-3235
    • Tijuana: 663 205 4660 or 663 205 4659
    • Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HIASMX
  • El Paso/Juarez
    • Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: (915) 303-6948; (915) 544-5126
    • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA): (888) 988-9996
  • Nogales (Arizona)
    • Kino Border Initiative
      • To call from Mexico: 011-52 (631) 316-2086
      • To call offices in Arizona: (520) 287-2370
    • Florence Project (Tucson): (520) 777-5600
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico:
    • Catholic Charities: (575) 527-0500
  • Tijuana/San Diego
    • Al Otro Lado
      • To call from Mexico: (664) 208-8994
      • To call from the U.S.: (619) 786-4866 o (323) 238-9935
      • To visit the community center, Enclave Caracol: C. Primera 8250, Zona Nte., 22127 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
    • Jewish Family Services
      • To call from Mexico or WhatsApp: 1-858-333-2857
    • ImmDef: (213) 634-0999
  • Matamoros
  • South Texas
    • Texas Civil Rights Project: (956) 291-4169
    • ProBAR: (956) 425-9231
  • Nuevo Laredo/Laredo
    • Jones Day
      • To call: +1.214.969.5050
  • Mexicali
    • Border Kindness
      • To call: (686) 345-8890

Note: This information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.

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