Democrats and migrant advocacy groups seeking to help those awaiting their asylum cases in Mexico are facing new concerns.
On Friday, Escobar introduced the “Asylum Seeker Protection Act” aiming to defund the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, known as ‘Remain in Mexico.’
The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy forces some migrants to return to Mexico as they await their asylum case hearings.
As KTSM previously reported, theTrump administration set the policy earlier this year.
U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar said this policy deprives asylum seekers of due process and endangers their safety as they wait in Juarez.
She told KTSM the City of Juarez doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to house incoming migrants on top of those being returned.
“We’re seeing that many of those folks are not showing up to their hearing, they’re growing more and more desperate and these are people that are part of a pipeline that deserves due process,” Escobar said.
Migrant advocacy organizations such as Dylan Corbett, the executive director of the Border Hope Institute, say they see how the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy affects the refugees returning to Juarez.
“We’re now seeing 3,000-4,000 migrants who are in Juarez, they don’t have the capacity they don’t have the infrastructure to provide everyone with the services they need including shelter,” Corbett said.
Corbett also worries about increasing violence in Juarez, saying migrants who are stuck in Mexico are becoming victims of assault.
“We’ve seen migrants who are part of the remain in Mexico policy who’ve been targeted for kidnappings, been targeted for assault and robbery, there was a murder of 3 Honduran migrants not too long ago,” Corbett said.
Activists say the policy also makes it more difficult for asylum seekers to have access to legal representation, which they say may result in them not returning for their hearings.
“It is bad for each of these families they are going back to Juarez where they don’t have legal support or legal aid, they don’t have any network or families in the community helping them,” Fernando Garcia, the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said.
Rep. Escobar said she’s invited Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders to join her in Juarez to see what’s happening firsthand and hear from the community.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, since the expansion of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy to El Paso, more than 1,500 asylum seekers have been sent to wait in Juarez, including pregnant women and children with disabilities.