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Responding to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling upholding the preliminary injunction halting the Trump administration’s so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy — under which the U.S. government forcibly returns asylum-seekers to Mexico indefinitely while they ask for asylum in the U.S. — Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Americas, Charanya Krishnaswami, said:

“This policy was never designed to work; it was designed solely to deter people from exercising their right to seek asylum.

“Now that the Ninth Circuit has halted this unconscionable policy, the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers already subjected to it must immediately be given the chance to make their asylum claims from within the United States – a chance they should have all along. 

“Rather than appealing this decision, the U.S. government should instead seek to reverse the harm this policy has wrought upon people seeking safety and restore its commitment to the right to seek asylum at the U.S. border.”

Background and context:

Since January 2019, since the policy was first implemented, Amnesty International has engaged in research and advocacy to halt the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which have sent tens of thousands of people seeking safety to harm’s way. Most recently, in January 2020, Amnesty International was invited to tour secretive tent courts built at ports of entry exclusively to hear cases of individuals placed into this program and came away gravely concerned by the government’s systemic violations of its own policies governing the program as well as significant due process concerns inherent in the program. Previously, in October 2019, an international delegation of Amnesty International country directors embarked on a mission to monitor the impact of anti-asylum policies at the border. The delegation met with attorneys who represent asylum-seekers who are awaiting their legal proceedings in the United States in precarious and dangerous conditions in Mexico. 

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. Amnesty has also spoken out against the most recent asylum ban, which prevents people who have traveled through third countries on their way to seek safety in the U.S. from asylum eligibility here. Amnesty has called new asylum agreements with Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala a mockery of the right to seek asylum.

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