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Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Department of Homeland Security’s Action to Return Asylum-Seekers to Mexico

Washington, D.C. — In light of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) action to invoke 235(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which will send asylum seekers back to Mexico if they arrive to the U.S. border without proper documentation, Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission issued the following statement:

“Today’s action by the Trump administration, announced by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, is disgraceful and illegal and will result in the loss of life for vulnerable people seeking safety. This president has, again, chosen to exploit and endanger the lives of women and children to advance his own self-serving agenda. As with previous policy announcements, today’s new policy is founded on blatant mistruths.

“Many questions remain regarding the implementation of this policy.  We do not yet know how individuals will be processed. The United States has claimed to be unable to process asylum seekers at ports of entry, and has failed to manage the process, leaving thousands in danger.  How will they be able to manage processing this policy while ensuring safety and access to due process and attorneys? 

“The Trump administration, through its policies, has created a crisis at our border and endangered lives; from its “zero tolerance” policy to ripping families apart to today’s announcement, these policies are designed to create chaos, to instill fear, and to deter asylum-seeking families from reaching the border. Citing skipped court dates as a defense for this appalling policy is illogical, considering it was the Trump administration that canceled the Family Case Management Program last year – a program that helped migrant and refugee families navigate the immigration system effectively. In fact, the DHS’s own data showed it to have a 99% success rate.

“In a clear violation of international law, the Trump administration has been denying access to protection for asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, who are forced to wait in dangerous and vulnerable situations along Mexico’s northern border with the hope of being processed for asylum in the U.S. This administration knows that the border area is unsafe for women and children – just this week, two Honduran boys were murdered while waiting for the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States – and still, this administration doubles down on policies that make everyone less safe.”