WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration is calling the “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy a success but problems with the program include attacks — sometimes deadly attacks — on people waiting in Mexico.
The Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly known as “Remain in Mexico,” started a year ago.
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley calls it “an evil, terrible program” that rejects refugees.
“We’re going to throw you back into Mexico where you’re in these very dangerous border communities,” he said.
Human Rights First says more than 800 asylum seekers reported being violently attacked while waiting in Mexico. It’s likely many more crimes go unreported.
“We’ve seen a tremendous number of assaults, of rapes, of kidnappings, of extortion,” said Merkley.
Since its start, the program expanded from Central America to also include Cuba and Brasil.
Critics say once people are sent back to Mexico, there’s no way to reach them because they have no address or phone number. Acting Deputy Director of DHS Ken Cuccinelli defends the program and says there’s no real need to get ahold of them.
“They always have a court date, they always have a set point and time when they’re expected to come back across the border,” he said.
About 58,000 migrants were sent back to Mexico so far remain in Mexico. Cuccinelli says courts are finding only a low percentage of those individuals have valid asylum claims.
“It has worked very well to achieve the policies of the U.S. government and to help us, frankly, implement the immigration laws of this country,” Cuccinelli said.
House Democrats have promised to investigate the “Remain in Mexico” program.