CGRS Responds to Implementation of Illegal Migrant Protection Protocols

Monday, January 28, 2019

Last Thursday the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the immediate implementation of its Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which will forcibly return many asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. southern border to Mexico. This policy, previously referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” plan, was first publicized by DHS in December and requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their immigration court cases are pending. “This latest policy violates due process and our legal obligations to refugees,” Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) Co-Legal Director Eunice Lee said today. “It will lead to the wrongful denial of claims, and worse, the endangerment of human life and safety.”

Asylum seekers currently in Mexico have faced pervasive and well-documented violence and persecution against migrants. Mexican shelters and social services providers are already overwhelmed, and many individuals waiting to present themselves at U.S. ports of entry are living in squalid conditions. Mexico does not have the resources to ensure the safety of the many more asylum seekers who will be forced to remain under the MPP.

Moreover, without quality U.S. legal representation and psychosocial support, it is very difficult to prepare a successful asylum case. Asylum seekers returned to Mexico pending immigration hearing dates will face enormous barriers in accessing these critical services. As a result, many individuals with meritorious claims will be unable to fairly and fully present their cases.

“The Trump Administration continues to put forth cruel policies that disregard our immigration laws and trample the human rights of asylum seekers,” said CGRS Director Karen Musalo. “And in their unrelenting efforts to block access to our asylum system, DHS and the president continue to deliberately and shamefully mischaracterize women, children, and families who turn to our country for protection.”

CGRS will be sending a legal team to Tijuana this week to assist asylum seekers and advocates at the border and work with fellow human rights organizations to monitor the government’s implementation of the MPP.