Friday, August 23, 2019

BETTER THERE THAN HERE: How Trump’s Policies Are Leaving Thousands of Asylum Seekers Waiting in Mexico

Emilio Espejel/Associated Press
For years, migrants arriving in Tijuana hoping to seek asylum in the United States have been told to add their names to a waiting list kept by Mexican immigration officials. Amid a surge in arrivals over the last year, which led to Trump administration policies designed to deter them, that list — kept in a handwritten notebook — has stretched to thousands of names.
In July in Tijuana: About 500 asylum seekers were processed. About 9,900 were on the waiting list by the end of the month.
By August, the list had grown to more than 10,000 people, according to Al Otro Lado, a legal services organization for migrants. With an average of 34 people allowed to cross each day under a Border Patrol policy known as metering, the waiting time is now estimated to be six to nine months.
Along the border, there were already 4,900 asylum seekers on similar waiting lists in nine cities in February. (Only cities known to have at least 100 people on waiting lists are shown.)
By early August, the waiting lists had expanded to three more cities. The total number of asylum seekers on these lists surpassed 26,000.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
But they are not the only ones waiting. Over the same period, under a program known as “Remain in Mexico,” the Trump administration sent back to Mexico nearly 32,000 asylum seekers already in court proceedings.
The program is expanding rapidly — nearly half of these asylum seekers were sent back in the last month.
Altogether, nearly 58,000 asylum seekers are stranded in Mexico.
Those who have yet to cross will spend weeks or months waiting their turn. Those who are sent back to wait in Mexico may not see a judge for an additional six to eight months. Even then, most cases require lengthy litigation and could last months longer.
The metering and “Remain in Mexico” policies are part of a broader Trump administration effort to push Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to accept more migrants, most of whom come from Central American countries. The administration has also sought “safe third country” agreements with those same countries to absorb asylum seekers bound for the United States. Mexico has refused to sign an agreement. Guatemala signed on July 26, after President Trump threatened it with tariffs.
Read the rest of this NYT interactive report HERE.

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