EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Different immigration attorneys in the borderland have to travel back and forth between El Paso and Juarez to see their clients. They’re afraid that may go against laws in Mexico since they’re licensed in the U.S.
The borderland immigration council say they want to see an end to the current migrant protection protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. That means those families or individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. are being returned to Mexico as they go through their immigration proceedings.
Some attorneys say their clients go through human rights violations and face major obstacles such as life threats.
“We’ve heard stories of them saying, even while one of my clients was kidnapped, ‘You all come to steal our job’ was one of the statements that was made while he was held captive. Another story saying, ‘If I ever see you cross here again, I’m going to kill you,” Attorney Linda Rivas with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center shared.
One lawyer with the council told KTSM it’s been a huge liability to represent their clients across the border these past four weeks.
“I’ll be honest, I think there are concerns on our end as well if what we’re even doing in Mexico is legal,” said Imelda Maynard, Lawyer Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico. “Obviously they have their own laws about who can practice law down there. There are questions even surrounding that. Like are we engaged in the unauthorized practice of law because we’re U.S. lawyers? We’re not Mexican lawyers.”
These attorneys also say since the program is so new, there’s so much uncertainty on all levels, including the government’s side. They also estimate each asylum seeker will be subject to three or four appearances in court before their final hearing. However, tracking their clients between each hearing appears to be the problem.
“How can people be represented when there’s just the huge hurdle because they’re in another country,” Maynard added, “So it’s really difficult because every time they return to Mexico, they might have a different direction, a different address. So that’s what we’re looking at, and we want to see the end of the program.”
The group says they’re working on four families cases and were given about a month from the first hearing to find counsel.
The second court hearing is expected to be on May 10.