Department of Homeland Security Strands Asylum Seekers in Mexico

December 20, 2018 3:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced today that it intends to keep asylum seekers on the Mexican side of the border while their claims for protection in the United States are processed. The details of the policy have yet to be released, even though the administration says it is implementing it immediately.

Chris Rickerd, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following response:

“Forcing asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico is just the latest in a series of cruelly punitive moves by the Trump administration that are fundamentally at odds with our nation’s commitment to provide protection to those fleeing persecution. To close the border to those who have walked thousands of miles seeking safety in the United States is an affront to American values. It appears the administration will stop at nothing to keep people of color it deems unworthy out of the country.

“Forcing these families, many with small children, to be trapped in Mexico while their claims await adjudication in the U.S. also offends due process and endangers lives. People have died while waiting at the border, including two Honduran teenagers just murdered in Tijuana. As described, this policy would condemn migrants to fend for themselves and would expose them to some of the same sorts of violence that they took a courageous choice to escape from in Central America.”

Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager at the ACLU’s Border Rights Center, added:

“DHS claims that it is impossible to process the current volume of asylum-seekers — but if that’s true at all, it’s a product of DHS’s own choices. When DHS prioritizes using funds to militarize the border with agents, walls, and razor wire, and terrorize toddlers with tear gas, inadequate resources are allocated to move migrants through processing. And this isn’t an accident. The reality is that this administration cares only about enforcement, and it regularly flouts the law to deter and stop immigration.

“We call on both governments to change this approach. Mexico should not enable the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda. And the United States must prioritize port of entry reforms and allocate resources to promptly and fairly process asylum-seekers in this country.”

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