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Trump Administration Begins Turning Away Families Seeking Safety at U.S. Southern Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After weeks of concern over the Trump administration’s implementation of its “Remain in Mexico” policy, it was confirmed today that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have extended the practice to include children and have returned to Mexico asylum-seeking families at the San Ysidro port of entry.

“The Trump administration’s disdain of asylum-seekers knows no bounds,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC).

The policy was first publicized in December 2018 when Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced that the U.S. would begin the process of invoking 235(b)(2)(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and would require asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed.

These actions were met with opposition from a wide array of advocacy organizations, including WRC. In addition to publicly speaking out against the Trump administration’s “Remain” policy, in December WRC joined seven other organizations in writing to newly-elected President of Mexico Lopez Obrador to express concerns about the policy. The group urged the Mexican government to clarify that it would not “accept involuntary return or transfer of individuals seeking asylum at the U.S. border back to Mexican soil.”

“That the Trump administration has chosen to endanger children by returning families seeking protection to danger in Mexico should surprise no one,” said Brané. “As we now know, thanks to leaked documents and their own statements, this administration has deliberately and methodically launched assault after assault on asylum-seeking families. We urge the Mexican government to take a stand against this latest abhorrent attack on men, women, and children seeking safety at the U.S. border with Mexico and refuse to be complicit in the U.S.’s criminal abdication of responsibility.  

“Implementing this policy is a clear violation of U.S. and international law, and a violation of the human rights of asylum-seekers. Both the U.S. and Mexican governments know that the border area is unsafe for women and children. And, the U.S. government knows full well that asylum-seeking families are no threat to this nation. This is about using hate to score political points. And it’s disgusting.”