Trump admin. expands under-the-radar and deadly policy to strand asylum-seekers hundreds of miles away from the border

Trump admin. expands under-the-radar and deadly policy to strand asylum-seekers hundreds of miles away from the border
President Donald J. Trump, joined by United States Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan and Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan Department of Homeland Security, visit the border area of Otay Mesa, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, a neighborhood along the Mexican border in San Diego, Calif. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Some asylum-seekers who will be forced to wait out their cases in Mexico will now have to figure out on their own how to travel hundreds of miles to their immigration court dates in the United States, following the Trump administration’s announcement of an expansion of the inhumane, illegal, and deadly Remain in Mexico policy, CBS News reports.

Under the expansion, asylum-seekers who have asked for protection in Arizona will be returned to the Mexican state of Sonora to wait for their immigration court dates. However, those courts dates will be in El Paso, Texas, nearly 350 miles away. “Since the U.S. is not providing them transportation,” CBS News said, “these asylum-seekers will have to find a way to travel across hundreds of miles of territory and two Mexican border states to reach Ciudad Juárez, the city neighboring El Paso.”

In the year since Remain in Mexico’s implementation, the Trump administration has forced out nearly 60,000 asylum-seekers, dumping them in Mexico with no concern about their personal safety, where they’ll sleep, or whether they can access legal help, or whether they’ll even be able to find out if their court date has changed. So of course, how this new group of asylum-seekers is being dumped is of no concern to the administration either.

"This choice presents enormous obstacles to asylum-seekers," immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick told CBS News, adding that the policy expansion will only increase the violence that hundreds of asylum-seekers have already faced during the past year. "Nogales is seven to eight hours from Ciudad Juárez and the journey for many can be dangerous, as it requires going through cartel-controlled territory,” he said.

The Trump administration’s anti-asylum policies have in fact been a boon to cartels and kidnappers, who have waited at Mexican bus stations for their victims like spiders in the darkness. “Powerful criminal organizations have seized on Trump’s changes,” VICE reported last September, “targeting asylum seekers with family in the U.S. by holding them hostage until their relatives come up with thousands of dollars to pay for their release.”

Human Rights First reported that some of these thugs have even included corrupt Mexican officials. “A Central American family with three children were abducted by men wearing Mexican police uniforms after being returned by DHS to Ciudad Juárez in August,” the group’s October report said. “An attorney assisting the family reported that photos sent with ransom demands to the family’s relatives in the United States showed the family in what appeared to be a government office.”

As Daily Kos noted early last month, a follow-up to that report just weeks later found, “There are at least 636 publicly reported cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, assault, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants returned to Mexico under” Migrant Protection Protocols, the government’s misleading name for a program that in fact offers no protection, with nearly 140 of those kidnappings or attempted kidnappings horrifically targeting children who have been returned to Mexico with their families.

The Department of Homeland Security’s move to expand the Remain in Mexico policy in fact “creates a new line of business for the cartels in Sonora,” Reichlin-Melnick said in a tweet, “who will now be able to charge for safe passage to Ciudad Juárez, expand their smuggling business, and kidnap and ransom people who refuse to pay and try to travel on their own.”

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