Human Rights First Publishes Running Database of Attacks on Asylum Seekers Under MPP

Human rights organizations partner to track kidnappings, assaults on asylum seekers forced to return to danger in Mexico under the Trump Administration “Remain in Mexico” policy

WASHINGTON – As Trump Administration and Department of Homeland Security officials continue to direct the return of families and other people seeking U.S. refugee protection to wait in extreme danger in Mexico,  Human Rights First has published for the first time its running database  tracking kidnappings, attacks and other violence against asylum seekers under the administration’s cruel and illegal Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. The database is found at, a new collaborative initiative to gather and preserve evidence of escalating human rights abuses inflicted by the Trump Administration’s forced return policies – created in partnership with the Refugees International, Instituto para las Mujeres en Migración, the Women’s Refugee Commission, Washington Office on Latin America, the Latin American Working Group, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Physicians for Human Rights.

“We created this tracker because there have been so many accounts of horrific attacks on asylum seekers that we needed a tool to assess the scale and scope of these massive human rights abuses,” said Kennji Kizuka, Human Rights First senior researcher and policy analyst for refugee protection. “There have been more than 400 public reports of rape, torture, kidnapping and other violence against asylum seekers and migrants whom the United States is forcing to wait in some of the most dangerous cities in the Western Hemisphere.  As the vast majority of asylum seekers have not been interviewed by journalists or human rights monitors, the  scale of kidnappings and assaults is clearly much higher than the 400 public reports this year.”

Human Rights First, which has recorded the  400 publicly reported cases of kidnappings, torture and assaults against asylum seekers and migrants under the MPP program this year,  will continue to manage the database by including new cases as reported by human rights monitors and journalists, and work closely with other groups to expand their collective capacity to document and track these large scale human rights abuses. The database includes the story of an Afro-Honduran asylum seeker who was raped after U.S. border officials returned her to Ciudad Juárez despite having expressed a fear to them that she would be targeted in Mexico. The database also includes dozens of cases of kidnapping as the United States returns asylum seekers to Mexico in a way that makes them easy targets of drug cartels’ kidnap and ransom businesses. Migrants are often sent back by foot over international bridges at the same time every day, carrying their immigration paperwork and missing their shoelaces. Cartels target asylum seekers as they cross back into Mexico from the United States, as they return to ports of entry to attend court hearings, as well as at bus stations and at shelters.

“The United States is knowingly sending vulnerable people seeking our protection to be tortured, kidnapped, raped and attacked in Mexico,” said Kizuka. “The Remain in Mexico policy violates U.S. law and treaties, and reflects this administration’s callous disregard for human life. We will continue to collect evidence of the harm caused by this policy, working in collaboration with many other organizations.”

The tracker invites asylum seekers, attorneys, human rights researchers and others to provide information about abuses that researchers can investigate, assess and potentially add to the database. It also has a feature to assist asylum seekers or attorneys to file a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The database and broader initiative are intended to serve as a record of the harm done by MPP and a resource to investigators, journalists and others in need of information about the scope and scale of human rights abuses inflicted under MPP. The new website provides lists of human rights reports, investigations, and lawsuits relating to the Trump Administration forced returns.   If you are interested in learning more about Human Rights First’s efforts to document violence against migrants under MPP, please visit Human Rights First.


Published on November 13, 2019


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