EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Just over a year ago, border officials struggled to process the thousands of asylum seekers arriving daily while fending off allegations of abuse at detention centers overcrowded.
Then came what Trump administration officials called one of their “game changers” amid the influx of migrants: an enforcement deal with Mexico sealed under the threat of heavy tariffs.
Mexico has deployed troops to its southern and northern borders, agreed to receive more foreigners sent by the United States under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, and cracked down on migrant smuggling networks. Human being.
Migrant caravans disappeared, the number of migrants presenting themselves at US ports of entry plummeted, and detention centers were no longer packed.
But what Department of Homeland Security officials consider an unfettered achievement, immigration activists and some academics say the US-Mexico immigration deal has only pushed the humanitarian crisis south of the border.
“I think it’s a failure. What he has brought are abuses and violations of the human rights of immigrants in Mexico and the United States,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso. “It’s very unfortunate that Mexico agreed to do the dirty work of (enforcing) US immigration policies.”
Garcia, who traveled to the Mexico-Guatemala border shortly after the implementation of the June 7, 2019 binational agreement, said he saw checkpoints, army patrols, centers overcrowded detention centers and a certain xenophobia towards migrants.
The MPP program sent nearly 65,000 asylum seekers awaiting asylum hearings in Mexico to the United States. Activists have long complained that this exposes them to crime in cities like Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, where drug cartel wars rage and street gangs prey on vulnerable populations.
They are now also at risk of catching COVID-19 in places where they may not have access to adequate health care or even testing, observers say.
“In the months following the agreement, Mexico apprehended a record number of people,” the Washington Office for Latin America (WOLA) said in an analysis of the year-long agreement on the enforcement of immigration laws. “However, this increase has been accompanied by numerous reports of authorities detaining and deporting migrants without due process, a problem that has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Maureen Meyer and Elyssa Pachico’s analysis said Mexico’s crackdown on Central Americans and other detention centers has overwhelmed there and forced other migrants to take clandestine routes north, causing them to vulnerable to crime and abuse.
“Past experiences show that this drastic approach can lead to temporary decreases in regional migration, but smugglers do not go out of business,” the analysis says. “And although the COVID-19 pandemic is currently having a major impact on mobility and migration around the world, it has not completely stopped the movement of people fleeing violence and dangerous conditions.”
Another group, Human Rights First, says 1,114 asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico have been victims of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other violent assaults. The group published a detailed list of crimes on its website.
WOLA and others say these same migrants are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in Mexican camps and shelters. Outbreaks have already occurred in Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa.
The year-old binational accord has also given Central Americans and others perhaps false hope of obtaining asylum, if not in the United States, then perhaps in Mexico. WOLA says 89,503 foreigners applied for asylum in Mexico between January 2019 and May 2020, but that country’s refugee agency is understaffed, under-resourced and facing a significant backlog.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the Trump administration’s anti-immigration and anti-asylum approach, and again the Mexican government has not backed down,” the WOLA analysis reads.
The document calls on the Trump administration not to use COVID-19 as an excuse to deepen tough anti-asylum policies and for Mexico to backtrack and “take steps to protect, not endanger, human rights.” immigrants and asylum seekers”.
In the meantime, DHS continues to show great pride in US-Mexico border security efforts.
“Le CBP est ravi d’étendre les patrouilles frontalières conjointes […] to fight against drugs, weapons, smugglers
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