Expansion of Remain in Mexico Plan a Further Assault on Asylum System

Washington, D.C.— In response to reports that the Trump Administration will continue its illegal and immoral attack on the asylum system by expanding the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” or Remain in Mexico scheme, potentially to El Paso, as well as other areas along the southwest border, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:

Expanding such an immoral and illegal program once again proves that there is no limit to how far President Trump will go when it comes to undermining our asylum system. Seeking protection in the United States is legal and the administration knows it, so this isn’t simply an assault on one set of laws, but on our entire system of laws.

The perversely named “Migrant Protection Protocol” is already a total travesty. By expanding this illegal and immoral scheme, the Trump Administration will return more people seeking protection to danger in Mexico. They will be subjected to Kafkaesque hearings where they may be denied asylum because they are effectively blocked from the legal representation they need to prove they meet U.S. legal requirements for it.

To add insult to injury, it now appears that DHS is considering conducting these illegal returns of asylum seekers in Border Patrol custody as well as ports of entry, even though a federal court enjoined the Trump Administration’s similar attempt to evade U.S. law through an asylum ban. The agency’s return decisions are already shielded from legal, human rights, or media observers as they are conducted at a port-of-entry where attorneys are not allowed. It will be even more difficult to monitor this illegal policy if it is applied to asylum seekers in Border Patrol custody.

Over a month ago, we had questions about how such a program would work and where it would be implemented. As per usual, we still have no details, which seems to be the M.O. of this administration.

For more information on the flaws of this policy, see Human Rights First’s fact sheet based on research on the policy’s implementation at the border, or click here to learn why Mexico is not safe for refugees and asylum seekers.


Published on March 1, 2019


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