BY ISN STAFF | March 22, 2019
The Department of Homeland Security began rolling out its “Remain in Mexico” policy in the El Paso, Texas region earlier this week. The Remain in Mexico policy requires certain asylum seekers arriving by land at the U.S.-Mexico border (both at and between official ports of entry) who pass a credible fear screening with a U.S. asylum officer (a first step in the process for requesting asylum) to return to Mexico to await their asylum hearing in U.S. immigration court.On January 29th, DHS began implementing the Remain in Mexico policy at the San Ysidro port of entry. Reports indicate that, as of mid-February 2019, at least 73 people had been processed and returned to Mexico through this policy, including 13 minors.
HOPE Border Institute, a Catholic immigrant rights organization based in El Paso issued a joint statement with the Borderland Immigration Council, saying:
“We recently received word that yesterday the Trump administration began the rollout of the Migrant Protection Protocols in El Paso. Whatever the scale or scope of this program here, by forcing asylum seekers to make their case on the other side of the border, and thus on the other side of safety and security, it will endanger too many lives and strain the resources of our sister city of Ciudad Juárez. This action is an insult to countless faith communities, advocates and volunteers on both sides of our binational border community who are working tirelessly to show that we can receive asylum seekers at the border with compassion and justice. This is not good policy; this is calculated disorder and contempt for human life. It seems there are no limits to this administration’s efforts to skirt the bounds of legality, trespass basic human decency and trample on the dignity of those availing themselves of the law to protect their lives and the lives of their families. Another inhumane policy will not break our spirits; nor will we be cowed by recent acts to intimidate our fellow defenders of the human rights of migrants. One day there will be a moral reckoning and we will look back and shudder at the myriad of ways our border has been weaponized against the most vulnerable. That day cannot come soon enough.”
Earlier this month, following a three day meeting in El Paso, Texas, the Catholic bishops of diocese along the Texas portion of the U.S.-Mexico and their Mexican counterparts (often referred to as the Tex-Mex Bishops) issued a statement expressing concerns with regarding U.S. border policy and “complete disagreement” with the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also issued a statement expressing concerning and amplifying the voice of the Tex-Mex Bishops.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network has joined the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign on calling on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to end the Remain in Mexico policy, with an action alert issued today.