Asylum Seekers Suffer Abuses in Mexico

Asylum seekers sent to Mexico by the administration of former US president Donald Trump have suffered violence and extortion by Mexican police, immigration agents, and criminal groups. Since January 2019, the United States has effectively closed its southern border to asylum seekers, leaving many to face abuses in Mexico. The Trump administration, under its Remain in Mexico program, sent more than 71,000 asylum seekers to Mexico to await asylum hearings. Additionally, since March 2020, the US has expelled more than 400,000 migrants, many to Mexico, including asylum seekers who were denied the chance to make their claims, under travel restrictions purportedly to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Transcript

Toluca, Mexico

“Elizabeth”
Asylum Seeker
We left our country because of the insecurity and harassment we faced and it’s the same here. We had to leave Venezuela because of the harassment we received from the Venezuelan Military Intelligence Service, as they constantly harassed and threatened me, my son, and my family.

 

Narrator
Elizabeth is one of tens of thousands of asylum seekers the US sent to Mexico while their cases are pending in US immigration courts. In Mexico, asylum seekers often face extortion and abuse by government officials.

“Elizabeth”
Asylum Seeker
When we arrived to Mexico the feds stopped us at the Mexico City airport. They asked us if we were going to the border. They demanded a bribe from us so as not to be deported.

Narrator
They are also targeted by criminal groups.

“Elizabeth”
Asylum Seeker
In Matamoros, we were very afraid of the cartels. That's why we had to move away from there. I had to walk with my son wherever he went for fear of being kidnapped or extorted by them.

Narrator
They are often not able to work or access essential services, including health care and education.

“Elizabeth”
Asylum Seeker
Currently, our life has stopped, since we are not allowed to work here. We do not have access to free health services and my son can’t study.

Narrator
US President Joe Biden has begun allowing some asylum seekers with pending cases, like Elizabeth, back into the United States—A positive step.

“Elizabeth”
Asylum Seeker
It is like a ray of hope in this long journey that we’ve been waiting for here in Mexico.

Narrator
But under the administration of former President Donald Trump, many others had their cases unfairly dismissed or were denied a chance to apply for asylum. They remain stuck in Mexico where they continue to face abuse. President Biden should ensure that they too get a fair hearing. Meanwhile, the Mexican government should protect asylum seekers in Mexico and ensure they are able to work and access health care and education.

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