Saturday, November 27

Staying in Mexico unnecessarily exposed migrants to harm, says report | Mexico-United States border

Incoming US President Joe Biden has been urged to scrap a “devastating” immigration program that activists say has exposed tens of thousands of asylum seekers, many of them children, to violence, kidnapping and rape in some of the most dangerous cities in the world. .

The Trump administration created the “Remain in Mexico” program in January 2019 in an effort to deter asylum seekers trying to enter the United States through the southern border.

The initiative, which is officially called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), stipulated that asylum seekers would have to wait for their court hearings in Mexican border cities like Ciudad Juárez, Mexicali and Matamoros, and not in the United States as before.

But activists claimed they exposed highly vulnerable migrants, mostly from Central and South America, to physical harm and illness in unfamiliar and dangerous settings with some of the highest murder rates on Earth.

In a report published Wednesday, Human Rights Watch described how Trump’s policy “unnecessarily and predictably exposed [asylum seekers] to a considerable risk of serious harm ”.

The group said that those interviewed for its report, including children, “described rape or attempted rape and other sexual assaults, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, armed robbery and other crimes committed against them.”

“In some cases, immigration officers or Mexican police committed these crimes,” the group added.

Michael García Bochenek, senior advisor on children’s rights at Human Right Watch, said his investigators had heard “really devastating” testimonies from asylum seekers about their plight in Mexico. He said the interviews had left him impressed with the resilience of those affected, but “completely devastated by what the US government was doing to the people.”

“The really shocking thing given consistent reports A really serious risk for people who are placed in the MPP – or return to Mexico after attending hearings in the US – is that the US authorities have continued to place people in the MPP, even during the pandemic, and people outside of the [program] when they present evidence of these damages, ”Bochenek said.

“I cannot help but draw parallels with other contexts that I have seen,” he added, citing Australia’s longest-running high seas detention scheme.

“There is a similarity there. The discharge of people who only travel to a country to seek safety, and not only discharge them, but deliberately, or at least knowingly subject them to damage. “

Donald Trump championed policies like Remain in Mexico, which has sent more than 69,000 people across the border, sometimes to ramshackle refugee camps, as a way to protect American citizens from “thugs” and “bad men.” .

Biden has vowed to scrap the program but, seemingly wary of triggering a sudden spike in arrivals at the border, members of his transition team have sought to lower expectations that they will do so immediately.

In a recent interview With the Spanish-language news agency Efe, Biden’s domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said: “Migrants and asylum seekers should not they believe in those in the region who smuggle with the idea that the border will suddenly be wide open to process everyone on Day 1. It won’t. “

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told Efe that Remaining in Mexico had “been a disaster from the beginning and has caused a humanitarian crisis in northern Mexico.” “But putting the new policy into practice will take time,” he added.

Bochenek said activists did not want to see “a rush to the border” after Biden took office. “But it is reasonable to expect an orderly and orderly liquidation of the [MPP] system.

“It doesn’t have to take months. That can be done in a relatively short time with proper planning, ”he said. “I am hopeful that we can take the [Biden] campaign promises to the letter and seeing the kind of orderly but quick ending to the show that we’re waiting for. “

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