New Report Documents Lives in Danger, Denial of Due Process under Remain in Mexico

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today issued a new report documenting the impact of the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols—commonly known as “Remain in Mexico”—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. Today’s 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.

“Better termed the Migrant Persecution Protocols (MPP), this policy is among the most harmful in a series of illegal moves by the administration—including turn-backs, a third-country transit asylum ban, and an asylum-seeker transfer agreement with Guatemala—to ban, block, and deter refugees from seeking protection. MPP violates legal prohibitions in U.S. law and international obligations on returning refugees to persecution, and blatantly flouts the asylum laws Congress adopted for refugees seeking protection at the border,” wrote the authors in today’s report.

Among its key findings, Delivered to Danger details that:

  • There are more than 110 publicly reported cases of rape, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, assault, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers returned to Mexico under MPP—likely only the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of returned asylum seekers haven’t been interviewed by researchers or journalists;
  • The MPP fear screening process is a sham that returns asylum seekers, including separated families, and unaccompanied and sick children, to grave dangers;
  • MPP tramples on the due process rights of returned asylum seekers and effectively makes it impossible for the vast majority to be represented by counsel in their immigration court proceedings;
  • The vast majority of asylum seekers returned to Mexico are left without a safe—or any—place to stay and very limited means to support themselves;
  • In addition to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, MPP now applies to other nationalities with 22 percent of those returned to Ciudad Juárez from other countries, including Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; and
  • By the end of July, the Department of Homeland Security returned at least 28,569 people to Mexico with an average of 450 men, women, and children now expelled each day.

“Despite its glaring flaws, and alarming attacks on asylum seekers, the Trump Administration is expanding MPP to Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros in Tamaulipas a region the State Department is directing American citizens not to visit and is flagging with a Level Four threat assessment—the same it gives to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria,” added Human Rights First’s Kennji Kizuka, one of the contributors to today’s report. “The administration is sharply increasing the number of vulnerable asylum seekers expelled to Mexico knowing full well that their lives are in peril there and that they will not have a fair opportunity to request protection in U.S. immigration courts.”

Human Rights First, in partnership with more than a dozen organizations with refugee and regional human rights expertise, recently released a new 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.



Published on August 8, 2019


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