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The Biden administration has reached a deal with Mexico to restart the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocol at the border. Starting Monday, asylum seekers will once again have to wait outside the U.S. while their claims are processed.

  • Plus, Mike Allen wraps up the week in politics.
  • And, the new trend of IV treatments at spas.

Guests: Axios' Stef Kight, Mike Allen and Jennifer Kingson.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, Sabeena Singhani, David Toledo and Jayk Cherry. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go Deeper:

Transcript

NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday, December 3rd. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re watching today: the tally of Democrats retiring from the House keeps climbing. Plus, the new trend of IV treatments - at spas.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy...is back.

The Biden administration has reached a deal with Mexico to restart former President Trump's “Remain in Mexico” program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocol at the border. Starting this Monday, asylum-seekers will once again have to wait outside the U.S. while their claims are being processed.

Stef Kite covers politics and immigration for Axios, and is here with the latest. Stef, this was a controversial program when President Trump started it, why has President Biden reinstated it?

STEF KIGHT: The short answer is that the courts are forcing the administration to restart this. There was a lawsuit over the way that they ended “Remain in Mexico” earlier this year. And the result was that they're now forced, the administration is forced to restart this program. At the same time, the Biden administration has been working at trying to end the program the right way. So it was one of those tricky situations where the way that they tried to end the program wasn't correct. So they are trying again, they're pursuing other ways of correctly ending “Remain in Mexico,” but they've also been working to restart it at the same time and trying to make it a little bit better for migrants.

NIALA: And when the program restarts, will it be the same as it was before? Or will there be changes?

STEF: There are a few changes to the program this time around and those changes were notably requested from Mexico. So one thing in all of this is that the U.S. can restart the policy, but really is very dependent on Mexico to agree to cooperate and hosting the asylum-seekers on its soil. So Mexico has really been the one asking for a lot of changes to the program to make it more humanitarian.

So for example, this time around migrants will be offered the coronavirus vaccine before they're returned to Mexico. U.S. officials are also going to try to complete all of the asylum cases within 180 days, asylum cases that are in MPP. They are also lowering the bar for migrants who claim fear of persecution in Mexico to make it easier so that if there are migrants who think they could be at risk by being returned to Mexico, they may not be put into the program.

NIALA: President Biden campaigned against President Trump's immigration policies generally, but how many aspects of Trump's immigration policies has President Biden continued?

STEF: You know, there are two big ones that come to mind, the first of which is Title 42 which is a COVID-related policy that allows border officials to quickly expel families and singles back to Mexico. It provides even more power to immigration officials to quickly return people to Mexico. And then the second one is this “Remain in Mexico” policy. It really was a very controversial and well-known policy. It was something that Biden specifically said that he intended to end and something the administration did end and did work on processes for bringing people back into the U.S. who were impacted from MPP the last time. And now they're being forced to restart it again.

NIALA: Axios’ Stef Kight. Thanks Stef.

STEF: Thanks, Niala.

NIALA: In 15 seconds, Mike Allen joins me to wrap up our week in politics.

[ad break]

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. The 19th Democrat in Washington announced retirement plans this week. Meanwhile, some big changes and Vice President Harris' office just a few of the headlines as we're wrapping up this week in politics as we do Fridays. Today with Mike Allen, author of Axios AM and PM newsletters. Good morning.

MIKE ALLEN: Good morning, Niala.

NIALA: Let's start with the shakeup in staff at Vice President Harris' office. Can you tell us what's going on here?

MIKE: Yeah. So Symone Sanders who's one of Vice President Harris’ best known aides is leaving and why this matters Niala is that Symone's is pretty well known. She was the national press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders campaign, no relation uh, but she was kind of a celebrity operative and is one of the most visible and powerful aides to Vice President Harris, the person you'll most often see you at the vice president’s side when she's in public. The reason this is getting so much attention, is there’s tons of worry among Democrats about dysfunction and drama in the vice president's office. So a lot of times the vice president just tries not to be seen, and doesn't want to take the spotlight of the president. And so staff drama is the last thing that you want attention to, but because she's the most obvious and the next in line to be the democratic nominee, whether that's in four years or eight years, or whenever that is, she gets outsized attention. And that's why a staff departure like this makes people say “hmm, what's going on there.”

NIALA: Also Democrats leaving Washington include Peter DeFazio, a democratic representative from Oregon, the 19th representative from the house to say, “not running for reelection in 2022.” Do all of these resignations pave the way for Republicans to win back the house?

MIKE: Well, they more reflect the fact that both Democrats and Republicans think the Republicans are going to win the house, right? Any lawmaker on Capitol Hill, either party will tell you that one thing is for sure it is better to be Mr. or Mme. Chair then to just be a member, it is better to be in the majority than the minority. It makes a massive difference: attention, politics, goodies, power. Like all of that comes from being the majority party. So it's kind of a leading indicator of the fact that a lot of these Democrats think that if they spare around, if they run for reelection again, they're going to be in the minority. Not as fun.

NIALA: Mike, I can’t let you go without talking about President Biden's announcements yesterday, his COVID winter plan. Especially now that we have to factor the omicron variant into that. What do we need to know about what he said yesterday?

MIKE: So we saw additional restrictions on people flying in the United States and then President Biden saying, “I'm on your side.” He's saying that for people who have private or insurance, he wants to get reimbursement for in-home COVID tests as a way of reducing that burden and encouraging test use. Now why this matters is {resident Biden wants to show that he is acting. Like clearly this virus has a mind of its own. So what can the president do? He can show that he's prepared and he's trying to get ahead of it and all these steps are an effort to do that.

NIALA: Axios’ co-founder Mike Allen. Thanks Mike.

MIKE: Well, thank you. Niala and I have a scoop for your listeners Saturday - Niala happy birthday.

NIALA: Thanks Mike.

OK to end the week we’re going to tell you about one unusual trend that Axios’ Jennifer Kingson brought to us…

If you're hooked up to an IV, that's usually bad news and means you're sick and in the hospital, but turns out now you can get an IV with nutrients and vitamins at your local spa, or even at the mall as a wellness treatment.

Jennifer, how and why did IVs become popular as a spa treatment?

JENNIFER KINGSON: This is one of the stranger trends I've seen in terms of the whole wellness movement. In the 1970s, there was a doctor named John Myers who popularized an IV drip called the Myers cocktail, which included electrolytes, vitamin B12, and other nutrients. There's been a revival of interest in IVF therapy, and it's become popular in places like New York and LA where trendy wellness spas exist. Now it's also permeated to the heartland. So you'll find them in malls across the US.

NIALA: And they, if these establishment are in a shopping mall, is that safe?

JENNIFER: As with any slightly eyebrow raising treatments, it may not always be the case that the person who's jabbing your arm with an IV has the sufficient medical training to do it properly. Doctors say that this kind of therapy doesn't seem harmful to them because it's basically the same as drinking a Gatorade. You're getting replenishment through vitamin water. They just say that there's no need to bypass your stomach to do this.

NIALA: Axios’ Jennifer Kingson. Thanks, Jennifer.

JENNIFER: Thanks, Niala

NIALA: Axios Today is brought to you by Axios and Pushkin Industries.

We’re produced by Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, David Toledo, and Sabeena Singhani. Our sound engineers are Alex Sugiura and Jayk Cherry. Julia Redpath is our Executive Producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is our Editor In Chief. And special thanks to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - and have the best weekend.

Go deeper

Biden's epic failures

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In the two months since signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, President Biden has by almost every measure bombed big time on the things that matter most.

The big picture: Biden, who marks one year in office next Thursday, has never been less popular nationally, after personally lobbying his party and the public on Build Back Better and voting rights — and failing.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

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