Biden administration’s decision to revive Donald Trump’s “stay in Mexico” policy will subject thousands of people to “enormous suffering” and leave them vulnerable to kidnapping and rape as they languish in dangerous cities Mexican borders, have warned migration advocates.
After reaching an agreement with Mexico, the United States will begin by December 6 returning asylum seekers from other Latin American countries to Mexico where they will be forced to wait for their cases to be assessed.
As part of the policy, first implemented by Trump, asylum seekers found themselves stranded in violent Mexican border towns where they were routinely targeted by organized crime groups for rape, theft, extortion and kidnapping. .
The US government promises to improve the program to allow asylum seekers to be represented by legal counsel and to complete their claims “within six months of an individual’s initial return to Mexico.”
Mexico said U.S. officials have responded to concerns about funding migrant shelters, protecting vulnerable groups and accessing Covid-19 medical examinations and vaccines. He also pledged to take “local security conditions” into account before accepting asylum seekers – a pledge that has raised concern among migrant advocates.
But supporters argue that the major shortcomings of the program remain unchanged.
“The violence faced by migrants in Mexico is going to trump any kind of promise made by the Mexican government to try to make things better,” said Linda Rivas, executive director of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso , in Texas. “There are not enough shelters. People keep being kidnapped – sometimes in their own shelters… Mexico can try [to protect migrants] but the reality is that Mexico cannot afford it.
The program, euphemistically known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), was part of a barrage of policies by Trump aimed at undermining the asylum system. The Trump administration has also invoked a previously obscure public health law, Title 42, in order to carry out summary deportations due to the perceived health risk posed by migrants during the Covid pandemic.
Biden campaigned to put a friendlier face on U.S. immigration policy – but in power he kept Title 42 in place. In August, a federal judge ordered the U.S. government to revive the Remain in Mexico program – a decision the Biden administration is appealing.
“You now have two policies [Title 42 and Remain in Mexico] which are no longer policies of Trump, but policies of Biden, ”Rivas said. “Biden has the ability to finish Title 42 and he didn’t. We see enormous suffering along the border.
Asylum seekers and migrant advocates have told horrific tales of violence against those sent to Mexico under the MPP.
Ciudad Juárez taxi drivers selected foreigners in the city and handed them over to criminal gangs. Children have disappeared from migrant shelters. Women have been raped and murdered.
Human Rights First, a US human rights group that has investigated Remain’s abuses in Mexico, has documented more than 1,500 cases of kidnappings and attacks on migrants as part of the program.
Many asylum seekers returned to Mexico, Rivas said, were not informed by U.S. border officials of their destination until the last minute.
The misery of the MPP program was encapsulated in a tent camp along the Rio Grande in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, where asylum seekers suffered flooding, freezing weather and extortion by local gangs .
“It is inevitable that these migrants will form these camps again,” said Father Francisco Gallardo, director of migrant ministries in the diocese of Matamoros. “All the border towns will fill up with migrants. “
The revival of the MPP may cause political headaches for Biden, but the issue has received little attention in the Mexican media. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not address the issue during his morning press conference on Thursday, even though he actually abandoned his 2018 campaign pledges not to “do the dirty work” of other governments on the issue. immigration issue.
“The Mexican government is very much in tune with the legacy left by Trump – immigration control,” said Tonatiuh Guillén López, a former immigration commissioner, who resigned in 2019 after Mexico gave in to the threats from Trump to stop migration across the country or face crippling tariffs.
“Mexico has become an apparatus of [US] immigration controls.