The dangerous and dehumanizing views of President Trump and his administration toward immigrants and asylum seekers are more than just shocking rhetoric that emboldens real world hate and violence. The views that have come to light about shooting immigrants and erecting barriers to pierce their skin and do them harm are also manifested in the policies of this President, such as the program that has forced 50,000 asylum seekers into intense danger in Mexico and Central America.
Two new reminders today about the direct link between “Remain in Mexico” or MPP (Migration Protection Protocols) and endangering people’s lives come from Jonathan Blitzer in the New Yorker and a must-read report from Human Rights First, detailing the dehumanizing acts of Department of Homeland Security by expanding the MPP policy – “at least 343 individuals subject to MPP have been violently attacked or threatened in Mexico – already more than triple the 110 incidents Human Rights First identified in our August 2019 report.”
Below is an excerpt from the piece by Jonathan Blitzer in the New Yorker. Find the story in its entirety here:
…When I visited, on a sweltering afternoon in August, none of the residents I met were comfortable going outside, not even in broad daylight. “It’s just too dangerous,” Denis, a thirty-eight-year-old from Honduras, who was with his daughter and son, ages thirteen and seven, told me. A few nights earlier, he said, a truck full of armed men in masks circled the grounds of the shelter a few times, and then left. No one knew who they were, what they were looking for, or when they might return.
…His wife arrived at a port of entry in El Paso, and immigration agents allowed her and the children to enter the U.S. while their asylum case was pending. Denis planned to use the same process. But, shortly after he and the two children reached Juárez, in mid-August, a group of local gangsters kidnapped them and held them for five days in an abandoned church on the outskirts of town. They eventually escaped and travelled directly to the U.S. border crossing. “It doesn’t make sense to try to cross illegally,” he told me. “The smugglers will just take your money and then abandon you.”
By the time they arrived in El Paso, the asylum process had changed: Denis and his children were briefly detained, given a court date in December, and then sent back to Mexico to wait, under a U.S. policy called the Migrant Protection Protocols (M.P.P.). For Central Americans trying to obtain asylum in the U.S., M.P.P. now requires them to remain in Mexico for the duration of their legal proceedings, which can last several months. When it’s time to appear before a U.S. immigration judge, asylum seekers must travel back to the port of entry and reënter custody; at the end of the day’s proceedings, they’re bused to Mexico, where they must remain until their next court date. Denis didn’t understand all the details, just that he and his family were being shunted back to the place where they’d been kidnapped days before. “I begged them. I said, ‘Put me in prison. Do anything to me, whatever you want. Just let my kids through,’ ” Denis told me. “My biggest fear is that in Mexico they’ll rape my daughter.”
Since M.P.P. went into effect, in January, in Tijuana, the Department of Homeland Security has extended it, city by city, to locations along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. In mid-March, it came to Mexicali and Juárez. In July, M.P.P. was instituted in the state of Tamaulipas, on the Gulf of Mexico, a stronghold for criminal cartels. Close to fifty thousand asylum seekers have now been returned to Mexico, where many of them have faced extreme levels of violence. On August 3rd, cartel members arrived at a shelter in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, demanding that the pastor in charge, Aarón Méndez, hand over a group of Cubans to be ransomed; when Méndez refused, he was abducted, and he hasn’t been seen since. Later in the summer, a few miles away, a dozen asylum seekers who’d just been returned to Mexico were promptly kidnapped.
Key details from the Human Rights First Report, as well as the full report here:
- The Trump Administration is delivering men, women and children seeking refuge from Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and other countries to some of the most dangerous areas of Mexico.
- There are already over 340 public reports of rape, kidnapping, torture, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers returned to Mexico under MPP.
- The MPP fear screening process is a farce that returns asylum seekers to grave danger. CBP continues to fail to refer asylum seekers for these deeply flawed fear-screening interviews, which appear to be increasingly cursory and perfunctory.
- In violation of its own policy, DHS returns Mexican nationals and vulnerable individuals, including those with serious medical issues, pregnant women, and LGBTQ persons. Refugees and migrants are stranded in Mexico in often inhumane and horrific conditions.
- More than one thousand children, families, and adults are sleeping on the streets in front of the Matamoros port of entry without adequate access to water or proper sanitation, too afraid to enter the city because of the extreme violence there.
- MPP is a due process charade that effectively makes it impossible for the vast majority to be represented by counsel in their immigration court removal proceedings. Nearly 99 percent of all returned asylum seekers were unrepresented through August.