Monday, September 23, 2019

Waiting In Juarez: How Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program Could Ruin The Smugglers’ Trade

The ‘Remain in Mexico’ program is prompting thousands of migrants to give up on their asylum claims and return to Central America, while others decide to wait in limbo.
Mariela Hernandez says she isn’t going back to Guatemala, no matter what. She illegally crossed into the United States from Mexico with her five-year-old daughter near El Paso, Texas, in early August. Two days later, they were sent back to Mexico.
Hernandez, a petite woman with an intense gaze and a firm voice, says she is going to wait in Juarez even though her odds of being granted asylum in the United States are very slim. She says she left her country after being attacked in her home, hit on the head repeatedly with a pistol, and robbed. She was afraid to call the police because they’re corrupt, so she took her oldest child and headed north, leaving her three-year-old son in the care of her sister back in Guatemala.
Another Guatemalan woman, 33-year-old Earlene Alvarez, is holding a four-month-old baby. She says she and her husband and their children were forced to move three times in Guatemala because of the gangs. They finally decided to leave the country because they are afraid of the gangs, they have no opportunities there, and they want a better future for their children.
Both women know many people from their hometowns who have already made the journey north, entered the United States, and were quickly released. They say they paid smugglers thousands of dollars to get this far, sometimes more than once. Hernandez still owes her smuggler $2,500. “I just want an opportunity to come to the United States and work,” she says. “I don’t understand why others were allowed in but not us. What changed?”
What changed was the Migrant Protection Protocols. Launched as a pilot program in El Paso and San Diego in January, the Trump administration expanded and accelerated the MPP program, also known as “remain in Mexico,” as part of a deal struck with Mexico in June to crack down on illegal immigration from Central America.
Photo: Julián Cardona for The Federalist.
The program requires migrants seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico while their cases are being adjudicated—a process that takes months. All told, the United States has sent nearly 43,000 non-Mexicans back across the Rio Grande to await their hearings. Last week, MPP hearings began in a sprawling tent facilities erected in Laredo, Texas, where migrants appear before an immigration judge via video conference.
Like most of the migrants in the program, Hernandez and Alvarez don’t have attorneys, nor any documentation of their claimed troubles in Guatemala. But even if they did, nothing about their stories suggests they would qualify for asylum under U.S. law. Simply living in a country with high rates of poverty and crime like Guatemala or Honduras, or even being the victim of a crime, doesn’t necessarily meet the threshold for asylum, which tends to be reserved for those targeted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular group.
Read the rest from John Daniel Davidson HERE at The Federalist.

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