President Donald Trump has carried out a full-on assault against asylum-seekers. One of his administration’s cruelest policies, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), is sending tens of thousands of people who ask for our help back to dangerous parts of Mexico to wait out their long asylum process.
Instead of being safe and supported, MPP means that thousands of asylum seekers are living in refugee camps in the Mexican side of the border as they wait for court dates in the U.S. Despite claims that the Mexican government would take care of these people, RAICES saw firsthand the lack of dignified housing, education, work, medical care, psychological support, and legal aid.
“We had to find cardboard to sleep on with our kids, no blankets, nothing,” says ‘Maria’, who’s living in a refugee camp with her two young children in Matamoros, Mexico. “I slept like that for 15 days.”
Intentionally putting asylum seekers into a precarious situation without a real explanation would be bad enough. But the Trump administration is leaving asylum seekers in some of the most dangerous towns in Mexico to fend for themselves, places like Matamoros and Nuevo Leon. The State Department lists these towns as “Do Not Travel” for US citizens because of threats of “gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault.”
Asylum seekers under MPP have been victims of organized crime in Mexico. Human Rights First has documented 816 reports of murder, torture, rape, kidnapping and other violent attacks against asylum seekers, including 201 cases of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping of children.
And MPP makes it almost impossible for asylum seekers to fulfill their right to legal counsel in court. Stranded in Mexico, only 2% of people under MPP have found a U.S. lawyer to represent them. As a result, only 0.1% of these asylum seekers have been granted asylum in the US so far.
The Trump administration says “MPP has absolutely been successful.” That’s because they have quietly abandoned 60,000 asylum seekers in Mexico under this program in an effort to kill asylum in the US.