Trump Administration Delivers Asylum Seekers to Grave Danger in Mexico: 200+ Publicly Reported Cases of Rape, Kidnapping, and Assault Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Since January 2019, the Trump Administration has expelled 45,000 asylum seekers and migrants, including Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Central Americans, to Mexico under the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP, but better known as the “Remain in Mexico” scheme). An estimated additional 26,000 asylum seekers are stranded in Mexico due to “metering”—the illegal policy of turning back asylum applicants at ports of entry. In September, the administration’s illegal third-country transit asylum bar went into effect banning virtually all refugees entering the United States via the southern border, including those in MPP, from receiving asylum. These policies put asylum seekers in grave danger and make a mockery of U.S. due process.
Rape, Kidnapping, Assault of Expelled Asylum Seekers in Mexico
The Trump Administration is delivering asylum seekers to rape, kidnapping, and violent assault in Mexico, where they are targeted based on characteristics that mark them as foreign—their accent, skin color, and appearance—as well as their gender and sexual orientation. There are now over 241 publicly reported cases of rape, kidnapping, assault and other violent attacks against asylum seekers expelled to Mexico under this illegal scheme. This figure likely represents only the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of returned asylum seekers have not been interviewed by researchers or journalists. Those returned by DHS to danger in Mexico include:
- Multiple female asylum seekers from Cuba and elsewhere who were kidnapped and raped in Ciudad Juárez, as Human Rights First documented in an August 2019 report “Delivered to Danger.”
- Dozens of Cuban and other asylum seekers, including families and young children, who were kidnapped in Nuevo Laredo. The men who kidnapped David and his child shot a man who tried to escape from the house where they were being held with other migrants held for ransom. They threatened to remove and sell the kidneys of David’s child. Because of this ordeal, David’s “young child has stopped talking altogether.”
- LGBTQ asylum seekers expelled by DHS to Matamoros, including a Salvadoran trans woman who was previously kidnapped and raped at gunpoint in Mexico while attempting to reach the United States to seek asylum.
Tent “Courts” Are Further Due Process Charade
The use of secretive tent courts to hold immigration hearings for asylum seekers placed in MPP is yet another attack on U.S. due process, along with the sham MPP screenings, asylum turn-backs, and asylum bans. These tent courts have been closed to media, public observers, as well as legal service providers offering legal information sessions and screenings for potential legal representation. As a result of these restrictions on access to counsel at U.S. immigration court houses, as well the enormous barriers for returned asylum seekers to find and meet with U.S. attorneys while stranded in Mexico, 99 percent of people in MPP do not have an attorney according to immigration court data analyzed by Syracuse University’s TRAC.