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Earlier today, immigration experts gathered on a press call to discuss the growing humanitarian crisis in our border exacerbated by the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. Asylum seekers, fleeing violence and devastation in their home countries, are being pushed into Mexico and isolated from legal representation for U.S. asylum claims. Predictably, this inhumane policy is having horrendous, preventable consequences.
Each of the featured experts on this panel recently returned from trips to the U.S./Mexico border and reported on what they saw on both sides of the border and the consequences for migrants, Mexico, and the United States’ asylum system.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council said,
Fundamental to the concept of American justice is the principle that courts should provide people with due process and an opportunity to be heard. But what I saw in El Paso was the way in which the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program has thrown these principles out of the window. The unfolding humanitarian catastrophe at the border is a direct result of the administration’s choice to subject over 42,000 people, including tens of thousands of children, to this inhumane policy. In January, the administration claimed the Remain in Mexico program would ‘restore a safe and orderly immigration process.’ But what a visit to the border shows is that rather than ‘safe and orderly,’ the program has created a dangerous and chaotic situation for all. If we want to restore the rule of law, MPP must be ended.
Ursela Ojeda, Policy Advisor, Migrant Rights and Justice, at Women’s Refugee Commission said,
Under the Remain in Mexico policy, the US government is knowingly returning thousands of migrants to danger in Mexico. Migrants subject to Remain in Mexico including pregnant women, children, and families, are being assaulted, kidnapped, and killed and it will only get worse as it continues to expand. This is unconscionable. With Remain in Mexico, the Trump administration has once again abdicated its legal and moral responsibilities to receive and process those seeking protection at our borders.
David Leopold, Counsel to DHS Watch, Chair of Immigration at Ulmer & Berne and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said,
When I traveled to El Paso and Ciudad Juarez last week I expected to witness a humanitarian crisis at the southern border. What I found was an ongoing assault by the Trump administration on the core American values of due process and fairness. With MPP the Trump administration has effectively deleted asylum protections from the law. By forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico to wait for their hearings in U.S. immigration court, the Trump administration has cut off access to the courts, counsel and, sadly, the right to apply for asylum. MPP is a complete denial of any notion of due process and fairness that I’m aware of. We see now, with Trump’s treatment of Bahamian hurricane refugees, that the goal of this administration is to close the borders and cut of access to all in need of protection.
Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel said,
This administration is claiming success because their only goal post, at all costs, without regard to law and long-held American values, is simply decreasing the number of asylum applicants and closing the door to almost anyone in need of protection, regardless of whether asylum seekers are able to find or return to a safe home. But that is not America. Our success should instead be measured using basic American principles of law and American values. Are we abiding by our laws? Are we a responsible nation in our own hemisphere making a regional refugee crisis better or worse? Those should be our goal posts. Short-term, harsh, deterrence-only tactics that is this administration’s signature not only fail our country, they lead to greater humanitarian concerns for refugees which in turn create more difficult, longer-term issues for our country and our neighbors in the region.