March 22, 2019 – Today, a federal court will decide if our country’s humanitarian laws can put an end to the Trump Administration’s latest attack on asylum seekers at the border. We are challenging the unlawful and dangerous “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forcibly returns asylum seekers to Mexico while their cases are adjudicated in immigration court.
Our team has been at the border identifying and interviewing individuals affected by the policy. The people we spoke with expressed bewilderment and dread over the prospect of remaining in Tijuana, where migrants routinely face abuse and violence.
In the words of asylum seekers that have been sent back to Mexico:
“I am just as afraid of being in Mexico as I was in my home country.”
“I am alone and I also fear for my safety when I leave the safe house because the border zone is very dangerous, particularly for women and members of the LGBTQ community like me.”
“I had already said many times that I was afraid to go back to Mexico, and nobody seemed to care.”
“Not only do I feel unsafe here as an asylum seeker, I am afraid that narcotraffickers will find me and kill me… During my entire time on the U.S. side of the border, no one ever asked me if I was afraid of being returned to Mexico.”
“Apart from my fear of being in Mexico, I am also worried about how I will fight my asylum case. I don’t know how I can find a U.S. immigration lawyer while I’m in Tijuana.”
“At one point, I had to interrupt the [officer] to explain that I didn’t feel safe in Mexico. He told me that it was too bad… He told me I’d have to figure out how to survive in Tijuana.”
“Because I am a migrant here with only temporary immigration status, I feel that I am in danger and would not be protected by the Mexican government if I had a problem. I feel very visible because I have a Honduran accent… I also have visible scars and injuries on my head and face from when the Mara 18 tried to kill me in Honduras. These scars make it obvious that I am an asylum seeker.”
We will be in court today because asylum is a right. Because due process is a cornerstone of our Constitution. And because we strive to create a country where humanity rises above fear.
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