AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

Trump Administration Sows Chaos, Risks Lives with “Remain in Mexico” Policy

12/20/18 AILA Doc. No. 18122040. Admissions & Border, Asylum, Removal & Relief
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the chaos, confusion and cruelty that has defined the Trump Administration's approach to immigration policy continued as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new policy that would force most asylum seekers who have passed a preliminary screening to remain in Mexico pending a full hearing before an immigration judge. Devoid of meaningful details and implemented without an agreement with Mexico, this inhumane and likely illegal policy virtually ensures that due process protections will not be afforded for persecuted families and individuals. Soon thereafter, the President reversed his earlier statements and again demanded $5 billion in border wall money, making the threat of a partial government shutdown increasingly likely.

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson stated, "Instead of this inhumane policy that is contrary to our obligations under domestic and international law, the Trump administration should strengthen regional refugee resettlement programs, increase foreign aid to Central America, and support anti-corruption initiatives. It should immediately restore asylum seekers' ability to pursue their claims inside the United States, while supporting an independent immigration court system that has the resources to handle asylum claims with full due process protections in a timely manner. Further, it should expand the use of alternatives to detention to promote accountability and efficiency. These long-term solutions would address the root causes of the violence and instability compelling people to flee, while ensuring all individuals are provided a fair hearing.

"Moreover, although DHS states that asylum seekers who remain in Mexico 'will have access to immigration attorneys,' whose assistance is instrumental in winning protection from persecution, it offers no explanation as to how that access will be facilitated. Given the overwhelming barriers to legal representation affected individuals will face, as well as the difficulties in obtaining documentation critical to supporting their claims, whether or not a person is forced to remain in Mexico could mean the difference between life and death."