In late January, the Trump administration began a pilot program on the border between Tijuana and San Diego in which migrants who claim asylum are sent back to wait in Mexico as their asylum claims are processed. This is known formally as the Migrant Protection Protocols and informally as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
The result has been to turn back individuals, mostly migrants from central America, before they can even present claims of asylum; and even if they are able to make a formal claim, they must wait in Mexico as their case proceeds through the US court system.
Needless to say, this is almost certainly in contravention of US law regarding asylum. A lawsuit challenging this policy involving the American Civil Liberties Union is due to be heard in a few weeks.
In the meantime, the remain in Mexico policy is causing profound harm for asylum seekers. My guest today, Kerri Kennedy recently returned from a fact finding trip to Tijuana in which she interviewed people turned away at the border due to this policy.
Kerri Kennedy is the associate general secretary for international programs with the American Friends Service Committee, this is the Quaker peace and justice organization. She spent a week in Tijuana, speaking to people impacted by this policy and visiting what are effectively homeless shelters that provide for migrants stranded in this limbo.
The picture she paints is pretty grim. It conforms with what we already know about the Trump administration’s policies of inflicting harm on migrants as a way to deter people from making asylum claims. At time of recording, it appears that the Trump administration is seeking to expand this pilot from Tijuana to other key border crossings, like the Juarez – El Paso border.
If you have 20 minutes and want to learn how this policy is affecting asylum seekers at the southern US border, have a listen. Kerri Kennedy is also the editor of the new book Indivisible: Global Leaders on Shared Security