Fewer Asylum Seekers Allowed Into United States Under MPP in May 2021

Austin Kocher, PhD
2 min readJun 17, 2021

A new report that we just released today at TRAC shows that the number of immigrants whose cases transferred out of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) dropped sharply in May. 4,476 MPP cases had been allowed into the country in April 2021.

This fell to just 1,988 in May.

In total, 10,375 individuals forced to remain in Mexico under MPP have been allowed into the country between January and May. Still 16,138 MPP cases — or 60% of the total — have not been permitted to enter the country.

The slowing of the transfer pace during May was unexpected because the fraction of MPP cases paroled into the country remains small compared to the total number of possible MPP cases. In fact, just under 40 percent of possible MPP cases have been transferred out of MPP courts according to court data.

Highlights from the report are below:

  • Overall, 40% of all people with pending MPP cases have been transferred away from the MPP courts — a total of 10,375 people.
  • 60% or 16,138 pending MPP cases remain assigned to MPP courts along the US-Mexico border.
  • In May, 1,988 MPP cases transferred out of MPP courts, a sharp decline from April when 4,476 cases were moved out of MPP.
  • Not all ports of entry along the border are equal. Half (50%) of the pending cases from Brownsville, Texas have been allowed into the country while 23% of cases in Calexico have.
  • About half of the asylum-seekers from Venezuela (71%) and Cuba (58%) have been allowed into the country so far. Only 16% of asylum seekers from Brazil and 5% of asylum-seekers from Ecuador have entered the country.
  • 80 immigration courts across the country have received MPP cases. The most common immigration courts for MPP are: Miami, Florida (2,195 cases); Orlando, Florida (1,054 cases); Dallas, Texas (578); Houston, Texas (S. Gessner)(450); and Houston (Greenspoint Park)(403).

From my point of view, the sharp decline in the number of MPP cases transferred into the country could be due to a number of factors, but most importantly, it appears that the US government and UNHCR in Mexico are reaching a limit on the number of people with pending MPP cases they can find to inform them of the change in policy under the Biden administration.

The Biden administration also has yet to announce if and how they plan to address the more than 40,000 MPP cases that have already been closed. In practical terms, this means that even with over 10,000 asylum seekers in MPP allowed into the United States, the majority of MPP cases remain either in limbo or without any opportunity to be processed at this point.

Austin Kocher, PhD

I study America’s immigration enforcement system. Assistant Professor at TRAC. Graduate of OSU Geography. Online at austinkocher.com.