Asylum Seekers in Remain in Mexico / “Migrant Protection Protocols” Policy

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

Our 153 legal representation, refugee assistance, faith-based, human rights, and community groups write to urge your agency to end the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (“MPP”), to allow asylum seekers to pursue refugee protection—from safety in the United States as required by U.S. law and treaties—and to inform you that we stand ready to provide legal representation and humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers in the United States.

On Friday, February 28, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s April 2019 injunction blocking the MPP policy, a ruling which was subsequently stayed as the government pursues appeal.  We urge that your agency—and the Trump administration—immediately abandon efforts to prolong this legally flawed and dangerous policy.  As we know full well from our work with people seeking refuge at our southern border, asylum seekers in MPP have been subjected to kidnappings, torture, assaults, and other brutal violence while in Mexico waiting for their U.S. immigration court hearings.  In addition, MPP constitutes an insurmountable safety and logistical barrier to legal representation for many asylum seekers stranded in Mexico, as some of our groups detailed in a January 28 letter to you, which we again attach for your reference. About 95 percent of those in MPP are unable to secure legal representation.

We urge the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to uphold U.S. asylum law and allow asylum seekers currently subject to MPP into the United States so they can seek asylum from safety in this country, as required under U.S. law and treaties.  The U.S. government is more than capable of managing refugee arrivals in humane ways without resorting to illegal border closures, threatening exercises of militarized force, and harsh, punitive policies.

As you surely know, represented asylum seekers overwhelmingly appear for their hearings, as do those with community support.  Together, we will make every effort to ensure these asylum seekers can access pro bono legal representation and humanitarian assistance.  Many of our organizations have extensive expertise working with refugee populations around the world; others are deeply rooted in U.S. border communities and have long histories operating faith-based or community shelters.  Many of us will provide legal information about appearance obligations and referrals to legal representation, trauma counseling, medical care and other humanitarian necessities. Many of those in MPP have family in the United States—including in California, Florida, New York, and Texas—with whom they can stay.

These men, women, and children—seeking asylum from Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and elsewhere—have already suffered too much.  Many have been stranded in dangerous and difficult conditions under MPP for a year or more already.  They should not be subjected to additional harsh or punitive policies—including policies that block them from legal representation in their asylum proceedings—and should absolutely not be jailed in detention facilities and prisons.

We are happy to meet with your agencies and others to plan for a prompt, humane, and orderly end to the MPP program.

Sincerely,

Abuelas RGV

ACLU

African American Ministers In Action

Al Otro Lado

Ameinu

American Friends Service Committee

American Immigration Council

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Angry Tias

Anti-Defamation League

Arizona Jews for Justice

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Asylum Seeker Assistance Project

Augustinian

Avodah

Bay Area Health and Legal Partnerships for Immigrant Youth

Benedictines for Peace

CAIR Coalition

Capuchin Franciscans, Prov. of St. Joseph

Catholic Coalition for Migrants and Refugees

Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona – Casa Alitas Program

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Center for Victims of Torture

Center Global

Centro Legal de la Raza

Church Women United in New York State

Church World Service

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

Colorado JCRC

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

Community Change

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Congregation Beth Israel

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Congregation of the Mission, Western Province USA

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc.

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

Dominican Sisters of Sparkill

DWN

Families Belong Together

Flint Jewish Federation

Franciscan Action Network

Freedom for Immigrants

Freedom Network USA

Glenmary Home Missioners

Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition

Haitian Bridge Alliance

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

HIAS, Inc.

Hispanic Federation

Hope Border Institute

Human Rights First

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Human Rights Watch

Immigration Center for Women and Children

Immigration Equality

Immigration Hub

Immigrant Defenders Law Center

Immigrant Legal Defense

Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall Law

Innovation Law Lab

Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI)

Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Service

International Refugee Assistance Project

International Rescue Committee

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix

Jewish Community Relations Council of Portland

Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey

Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Jewish Family and Community Services

Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis

Jewish Family Services

Jewish Family Service of Colorado

Jewish Family Services of Columbus

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans

Jewish Family Service LA

Jewish Family Service of San Diego

Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley

Jewish Justice Advocates of Temple Beth El of South Orange County California

Jewish Social Services of Madison

Jewish Vocational Service in Boston

Justice in Motion

Justice Revival

Keshet

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND, Inc.)

Kino Border Initiative

Latin America Working Group (LAWG)

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice

Loyola Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Mishkan Chicago

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Churches

National Council of Jewish Women

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

NM CAFé

Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees

Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church

Passionist Solidarity Network

Pax Christi USA

Physicians for Human Rights

Poder Latinx

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province

Program for Torture Victims

Public Counsel

Rabbinical Assembly

Reconstructing Judaism

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Refugees International

Rian Immigrant Center

Safe Horizon

Saint Francis Friary

Sanctuary for Families

San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

Save the Children

Save the Children Action Network

Sisters of Charity, BVM

Sisters of Charity of New York

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team

Sojourners

Southern Border Communities Coalition

Southern Poverty Law Center

Spiritans

Tahirih Justice Center

Taylor Levy Law

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta

The Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Uri L’Tzedek

Union for Reform Judaism

United We Dream

University of Southern California Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic

Washington Office on Latin America

Witness at the Border

Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)

Women’s Refugee Commission

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Letter

Published on March 6, 2020

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