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“Remain in Mexico” Policy Hinders Asylum

Advocacy | January 25, 2019

The Trump Administration has begun removing many asylum-seekers from the United States to Mexico, where they are to remain until their immigration court hearings. While the Mexican Government does not support the unilateral decision to implement this international-impact policy, Mexico has decided to honor its commitment to its migration policies by receiving these migrants. Authorities in Tijuana, where the United States will be sending 20 asylum-seekers per day, explained that there is no strategy to receive these migrants.

This “Remain in Mexico” policy is intended to supplant the longstanding practice where asylum-seekers awaited their day in court from within the United States. This policy development is problematic for numerous reasons:

  1. It limits asylum-seekers’ meaningful access to representation to legal counsel, which is fundamental to asserting an effective asylum claim. (Applicants without counsel are 5 times less likely to be granted asylum than applicants who have the benefit of working with a legally-trained professional whose job is to competently navigate the complicated, ever shifting landscape of immigration law.)
  2. Trump’s newest policy lacks clarity, which creates chaos for applicants and, if accessible, their legal counsel. There is no guarantee by when applicants will be scheduled for hearings, for example. While the Department of Homeland Security has suggested that removed asylum-seekers should receive a court date within 45 days, this suggestion has no legal weight and represents an inadequate substitution for the previously honored legal right to apply for asylum at a port of entry or within the United States.
  3. Implementation of this policy, especially without a practical plan for sustainable implementation, carries the real possibility that asylum-seekers may eventually spend years in Mexico before finally making their claims. This experience would not only likely be traumatizing, but it also carries the risk of creating a cycle that undermines those individuals’ asylum claims.

“Remain in Mexico” is impractical, unfair, and undue. Please stay alert for updates on further developments and continue supporting immigrants by learning more; bringing the conversation to your community; and telling your lawmakers that we need humane, sustainable immigration reform—not manufactured crises.