Government to Appeal Asylum of First Remain in Mexico Refugee
San Diego, CA—Human Rights First today decried the U.S. government for its decision to appeal a court ruling granting asylum to the first individual returned to Mexico under the “Migrant Protection Protocols.” Alec*—who is represented by Human Rights First—was granted asylum by an immigration judge last month based on being persecuted for his work as an Evangelical Christian church leader in Honduras. The government had 30 days to appeal the ruling and decided to do so yesterday.
“Alec is a refugee who was granted legal protection in the United States because of the threats he faced for being an Evangelical leader in his community. He waited for six months in Mexico for his final asylum hearing after legally presenting himself at an official port of entry, facing threats of harm from those who prey on the vulnerable and threats of deportation from Mexican authorities. He endured those dangers and won on his day in court. The government choosing to appeal, when they know all too well that Alec’s case is open and shut, proves that the administration and Homeland Security are willing to take any step to block refugees from asylum in the United States,” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Barnard.
Last month Alec was granted asylum by an immigration judge in San Diego. Immediately following the verdict, the U.S. government detained him, threatening to return him to Mexico. Thanks to the collective actions of Human Rights First and members of the legal and immigration rights communities, Alec was freed from detention and allowed to join family in the United States. Human Rights First will continue to stand by Alec throughout this needless appeal and believe that justice will win out.
Human Rights First notes that the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico”, are in place to deter genuine refugees from seeking protection at U.S. ports of entry. Last month, Human Rights First issued a new report documenting the impact of the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols on asylum seekers at the southern border. Delivered to Danger: Illegal Remain in Mexico Policy Imperils Asylum Seekers’ Lives and Denies Due Process offers detailed accounts of targeted attacks against returned asylum seekers, and captures how the administration is illegally shutting down asylum protections. The report is based on and features interviews with dozens of asylum seekers stranded in Mexico, communications with attorneys, local advocates, and Mexican government officials, and includes observations of court hearings from more than 170 returned asylum seekers.
In June, Human Rights First, in partnership with more than a dozen organizations with refugee and regional human rights expertise, released a blueprint offering concrete steps to manage the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border and to address the damage the Trump Administration’s mismanagement of it has caused.