CGRS Condemns Illegal Migration Protection Protocols

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) denounces the new Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this morning. Under this new policy, asylum seekers arriving at the United States’ southern border will be forced to wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. This move is yet another illegal attempt by the Trump Administration to rewrite our nation’s immigration laws in order to advance an inhumane, anti-refugee agenda.

Under the MPP asylum seekers will be forced to spend months or even years in Mexico awaiting their immigration court dates. As documented by numerous human rights groups, Mexico is not a safe country for migrants and refugees. In recent years, gang- and cartel-perpetrated violence and crimes against migrants have increased in Mexico. Asylum seekers confront numerous dangers on the treacherous journey through Mexico to the U.S. border, including extortion, trafficking, sexual assault, and other harms. Women, children, and LGBTQ asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable, and are frequently the victims of sexual violence and exploitation. Just last weekend, two Honduran boys traveling with a group of asylum seekers were murdered outside of their shelter in Tijuana. Forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico where these dangers are pervasive is unconscionable.

The new policy also presents serious due process concerns. Asylum seekers navigating our immigration system from within the United States already face numerous legal and procedural obstacles. Those forced to prepare their cases from Mexico will be at an even greater disadvantage. Under the MPP, it is unclear how applicants will access legal services and other resources needed to present a successful claim. Mexico cannot offer adequate legal or social support for these individuals; its shelters are filled to capacity and, needless to say, Mexican attorneys cannot represent asylum seekers in U.S. immigration courts.

The Trump Administration continues to wield dishonest and hateful tropes about immigrants to justify cruel policies like the MPP. In today’s DHS press release, Secretary Nielsen broadly claimed that the new policy would prevent “fraudsters” from exploiting “asylum loopholes” to gain entry to the United States. These assertions are baseless. Men, women, and children fleeing astronomical violence in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America raise bona fide refugee claims under U.S. and international law and have a right to seek asylum. Nielsen’s claim that asylum seekers “often disappear” before their court dates is similarly untrue. Asylum seekers in deportation proceedings appear in court at very high rates, and those with legal representation appear nearly 100 percent of the time.

“The MPP is an ill-conceived, inhumane, and untenable policy,” said CGRS Co-Legal Director Eunice Lee. “The new policy blatantly violates our immigration laws and flies in the face of international protection standards. If implemented, it will endanger the lives of thousands of asylum seekers.” CGRS calls upon our Administration to immediately rescind this unlawful policy.