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January 25, 2019
Press Release: Remain in Mexico is Illegal, U.S. Plan Sends Asylum-Seekers to Danger in Mexico
Washington D.C.—The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) strongly condemns the Department of Homeland Security’s Migration Protection Protocol (MPP) to turn asylum seekers away from ports of entry and keep them in Mexico throughout the duration of their immigration proceedings. This policy was officially announced by DHS in December 2018 and is set to begin today, January 25, 2019, with a pilot program at the San Ysidro/ Tijuana port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to news reports. This is a unilateral decision taken by the United States without adequate consultation with the Mexican government and despite previously voiced opposition from NGOs and members of Congress. The policy is in violation of immigration law authorized by Congress to process asylum seekers in the United States. The pilot implementation of such a program comes amidst calls for increased spending for an unnecessary and wasteful border wall and built up border militarization that would be harmful to border communities and migrants. Details regarding the implementation of the pilot are unclear.
“The administration is once again fueling the chaos it has already caused along the border with its own policies. The United States continues to deflect its responsibility under its own and international law to offer individuals access to protection. Instead, it chooses to leave individuals stranded for months and up to years in danger in Mexico and turns those fleeing persecution away from our border. This is yet another illegal and shameful measure and will not deter individuals from seeking safety,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG’s Senior Associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights, and Border Issues.
LAWG has documented the dangers that migrants face along Mexico’s northern border from organized crime and Mexican migration and law enforcement officials. This was evident in the murder of two Honduran youth in the city of Tijuana last year. Recent documentation by nongovernmental organizations in Tijuana reflects the risk migrants are currently exposed to as a result of limited access to seek protection in the United States and the challenges they face with regards to shelter and safety in Mexico, particularly women and unaccompanied children. Mexico is not safe for many migrants, and its asylum system remains weak and underfunded, which LAWG has also documented.
We urge the Trump Administration to withdraw this policy immediately and to instead focus on ensuring migrants have access to seek asylum at the border with due process. We urge CBP to stop utilizing illegal measures such as “metering,” turning asylum seekers away from ports of entry, and to ensure treatment of migrants in temporary processing facilities that respect family unity and the best interests of the child. Moreover, the administration should make the details of the implementation of this plan public, including details on how individual’s access to legal counsel, right to non-refoulement, safety, and well-being will be ensured throughout their wait in Mexico.