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Over 110 House Democrats Call for Immediate End of Remain in Mexico Policy

Feb 12, 2020
Press Release
Remain in Mexico forces asylum seeking families and children into dangerous conditions

WASHINGTON— Congressional leaders called on Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to immediately terminate the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, otherwise known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. This policy has led to multiple human and civil rights violations at our border, while also causing the mass suffering of tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers. In the year since its implementation, at least 816 migrants have been assaulted, raped, or murdered while waiting under “Remain in Mexico.”

“Under this dangerous and illegal policy, the Administration has forced tens of thousands of vulnerable children, families, and other asylum seekers into unsafe conditions before their asylum requests can even be heard. In the span of just one year, ‘Remain in Mexico’ has inflicted irreparable harm to nearly 60,000 asylum seekers.  The Trump Administration has forced the United States to turn its back on our international legal obligations damaging our status as the global leader on refugee protection,” the Members wrote. “‘Remain in Mexico’ repeatedly jeopardizes the physical safety and emotional well-being vulnerable populations sought to escape from in the first place. This program undoubtedly causes further harm and inflicts unnecessary trauma on these populations. The Trump Administration must immediately terminate this cruel and illegal policy, provide all asylum seekers with meaningful access to a fair asylum process in the U.S., and restore the U.S. commitment to be a safe haven for refugees.”

The letter was led by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and signed by 112 Democratic members of Congress: Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (NY-16), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (CA-27), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (CA-37), Appropriations LHHSEd Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Appropriations CJS Subcommittee Chairman Serrano (NY-15), Judiciary Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-16), Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Chairman Albio Sires (NJ-8), Appropriations DHS Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-1), Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-2), Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Congressman Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34), Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Congrssman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3), Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Congressman Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-4), Congressman Darren Soto (FL-9), Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congressman Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), Congressman Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-1), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-12), Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-4), Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17), Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA-35), Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4), Congressman Lou Correa (CA-46), Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Congresswoman Donna Shalala (FL-27), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-4), Congressman Peter Welch (VT), Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2), Congressman Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Congressman André Carson (IN-7), Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-5), Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (Fl-20), Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11), Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-5), Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-4), Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10), Congressman Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-6), Congressman Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-4), Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-2), Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8), Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-5), Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Congressman David E. Price (NC-4), Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-3), Congressman Greg Stanton (AZ-9), Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence's (MI-14), Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Congressman Don Beyer (VA-8), Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-2), Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1), Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Congressman John Lewis (GA-5), Congressman Al Green (TX-9), Congressman David Trone (MD-6), Congressman William R. Keating (MA-9), Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3), Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-2), Congressman Lloyd Doggett  (TX-35), and Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly (IL-2), Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-4), Congressman Ami Bera, MD (CA-7), Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10).

The letter was also endorsed by 42 organizations, including ACLU, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, The Immigration Hub, Lawyers for Good Govt Project Corazon Matamoros, The Center for Victims of Torture, Coalition on Human Needs, Women’s Refugee Commission, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, National Immigrant Justice Center, The Latin America Working Group, Doctors for Camp Closure, Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, United We Dream, Immigrant Defenders Law Center , Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Witness at the Border, National Justice for Our Neighbors, Just Neighbors, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), New Mexico Comunidades en Acción de Fé (NM CAFé), Project Lifeline, Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), Doctors for America, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants,  Human Rights First, Church World Service, Tahirih Justice Center, Americas Voice, Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children Action Network, Families Belong Together, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Texas Civil Rights Project, The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC), National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Union for Reform Judaism (the URJ), the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Justice in Motion, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), and Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

 

Dear Acting Secretary Chad Wolf,

We just marked the one-year anniversary of the Trump Administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. Under this dangerous and illegal policy, the Administration has forced tens of thousands of vulnerable children, families, and other asylum seekers into unsafe conditions before their asylum requests can even be heard. In the span of just one year, ‘Remain in Mexico’ has inflicted irreparable harm to nearly 60,000 asylum seekers.  The Trump Administration has forced the United States to turn its back on our international legal obligations damaging our status as the global leader on refugee protection. We call on the Trump Administration to immediately terminate this harmful policy.

‘Remain in Mexico’ is just another tool used by this Administration to circumvent and dismantle the U.S. asylum system. ‘Remain in Mexico’ obstructs access to legal counsel, making it nearly impossible for asylum seekers into actually obtain asylum.  In fact, members of the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents USCIS asylum officers, asserts that the policy fails to provide even basic procedural protections to asylum applicants.   Only 4 percent of those subject to ‘Remain in Mexico’ have been able to find legal counsel.  In contrast, nearly a third of those allowed to remain in the U.S while pursuing their asylum claim have obtained legal counsel over the same time period.  Legal representation is critical to securing asylum as those with lawyers are four times more likely to be granted asylum than those without counsel.   This obstruction of due process not only violates U.S. asylum and immigration law but harms vulnerable children and families who desperately need protection.

Moreover, this policy closes the doors to vulnerable populations, including children and families, forcing them to wait in dangerous conditions in locations even our own government considers very dangerous.  In the last year, there have been more than 800 documented attacks on those subject to ‘Remain in Mexico’, including cases of kidnapping, extortion, torture, rape, and murder.  A recent study by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at San Diego found that one in four people subject to ‘Remain in Mexico’ in Tijuana and Mexicali have been threatened with physical violence.  Families, children, and others are living in makeshift encampments, often without adequate access to water, food, medical care, and proper sanitation. Furthermore, in alleged violation of CBP’s own policy,  we understand that other vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals, and those with severe illnesses, have also been forced to wait in these conditions.  For LGBTQ asylum seekers, this policy forces them to remain exposed to the very abuse and persecution they are seeking protection from in the U.S. 

In response to the alarming reports about conditions at the border caused by ‘Remain in Mexico,’ Members of Congress have traveled to Texas and Mexico to investigate these allegations first-hand. Members have spoken with hundreds of vulnerable families forced to live in makeshift refugee camps.  Unfortunately, these visits have confirmed that many human rights violations are occurring at the border as a result of ‘Remain in Mexico’.

‘Remain in Mexico’ repeatedly jeopardizes the physical safety and emotional well-being vulnerable populations sought to escape from in the first place. This program undoubtedly causes further harm and inflicts unnecessary trauma on these populations. The Trump Administration must immediately terminate this cruel and illegal policy, provide all asylum seekers with meaningful access to a fair asylum process in the U.S., and restore the U.S. commitment to be a safe haven for refugees.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

# # #

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.