In a column for the Washington Post, Greg Sargent of the Plum Line blog highlights the key findings of a newly-released US Immigration Policy Center report which lays out clearly the ugly and violent consequences of Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy.
The report affirms one of the largest criticisms of the policy, which is that large percentages of migrants are being exposed to threats of violence after being forced to return to Mexico. Fully 90% fear a return to Mexico. The report also finds that a staggering number – 59.6% – who expressed fear of returning to Mexico were not given a second-round credible fear interview, and were placed in the MPP program regardless.
This report shows in no uncertain terms that the United States is no longer a shining city on a hill that offers protection; but rather a pit of despair, where Donald Trump and the Republicans turn away those fleeing horrific violence without so much as a fair hearing.
Sargent’s piece is excerpted below and can be read in full here:
The report, by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California at San Diego, surveyed 607 such migrants who were returned to Mexico, in collaboration with migrant shelters in Tijuana and Mexicali. This may be the most comprehensive effort yet to survey the experiences of migrants returned to Mexico, who at last count numbered around 50,000.
“Approximately 1 out of every 4 of our respondents (23.1%) have been threatened with physical violence while in Mexico as they await their immigration court dates.”
“Just over 1 out of every 5 of our respondents (21.9%) who are seeking asylum with children under the age of 18 have been threatened with physical violence while in Mexico.”
“Altogether, 56.5% of our respondents who have been threatened with physical violence reported that these threats turned into actual experiences of physical violence, including being beaten, robbed, and extorted.”
…Another big finding in the report concerns process. Under MPP, if asylum seekers in U.S. territory declare in their initial interview a fear of being returned to Mexico, they’re supposed to get a second screening by a trained asylum officer designed to see whether that fear is credible.
If so, they are supposed to be exempted from return. As Hamed Aleaziz reports, some inside the administration wanted more protections put in place, but that didn’t happen.
Now the new report finds that under these less stringent protections, many migrants are returned without even getting that second hearing. It finds that a staggering 9 out of 10 migrants initially interviewed expressed fear of being returned to Mexico. And:
“Of these individuals, 40.4% were given a secondary interview and 59.6% were not. In other words, U.S. immigration officials further investigated the fears of approximately 4 out of every 10 who expressed fear about being returned to Mexico. However, approximately 6 out of every 10 were placed into the Remain in Mexico policy without any further investigation into the fears that they expressed about being returned to Mexico.”
If accurate, this means a solid majority of those who expressed a fear of return to Mexico didn’t even get their second hearing to see whether those fears were credible.