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Blocked at the border: Young families, pregnant mothers struggle for asylum

Like most others in the encampment that's just a stone’s throw away from U.S. soil, Melissa and her family had crossed the southern border to seek asylum, only to be returned to the Mexico side where they would have to wait.

The family found themselves caught at the center of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy — a Trump administration initiative that has forced tens of thousands of Central Americans to wait outside the U.S. for their chance to appear in immigration court.

Immigrant advocates, however, argue that there are safer alternatives to the policy that would give migrants more access to the legal services they need to make an effective claim.

One frequently cited example is the Obama administration's Family Case Management Program, for which more than 99% of families who participated showed up for their court hearings and appointments with ICE, according to data from the Women's Refugee Commission.