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Wednesday, January 29 marks one year since the Trump administration implemented an unprecedented program disingenuously titled the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico,” under which the U.S. government forcibly returns people to Mexico while they ask for asylum in the U.S. 

Since last January, close to 60,000 people who arrived at the Mexico-U.S. border have been forced to stay in Mexico for months in dangerous  conditions while they fight their asylum claims in the United States. As of January 23, 2020, there have been 816 public reports of kidnapping, extortion, rape, murder, torture and other violent assaults faced by asylum-seekers subject to the policy in Mexico. In multiple trips to the Mexico-U.S. border, Amnesty International USA heard first-hand stories of pregnant women, LGBTI people, children, and people with disabilities suffering abuses while they wait in Mexico. 

Remain in Mexico has also created a due process crisis, in which fewer than 5% of asylum-seekers are able to access legal representation, even though their proceedings are often times a matter of life or death. This week, Amnesty International is in south Texas investigating proceedings taking place in secretive tent courts along the Mexico-U.S. border, which have been the sites of assembly-line injustice. 

As the policy goes into its second year, Charanya Krishnaswami, the advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA said:

“From the start, this policy has been a human rights disaster, forcing people who seek safety into danger. The Trump administration’s cruel experiment has led to tens of thousands of people forced into conditions of danger, exposed to risks of murder, kidnapping, torture, and sexual assault.

“In the course of a year, this and other cruel and ill-advised policies have dismantled the asylum system as we know it, forcing people who seek safety into grave peril. This policy must be stopped before it inflicts more suffering, and the people already subjected to its cruelties must be treated appropriately.”

Background and context

People subject to Remain in Mexico are forced to stay in some of the most dangerous areas along the Mexico-U.S. border.  The policy has constituted a dramatic shift in the U.S. asylum system, which has for decades provided for the right to seek asylum at the United States border, as required under international law. 

Amnesty International USA has called on Congress to defund Remain in Mexico and other anti-asylum border policies that violate the basic human right to seek asylum and protection from persecution. Amnesty International drew upon its extensive past research documenting the harms faced by asylum-seekers in Mexico to intervene in Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan, submitting an amicus brief describing the many grave dangers faced by returnees under the program. Amnesty International has previously documented the range of human rights violations committed by the U.S. government against people seeking asylum at the U.S-Mexico border. In 2018, Amnesty International concluded that Mexico is not a safe country for asylum-seekers and that people in need of protection are routinely subject to detention and deportation there. 

Media contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected]

 

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