PBI advocacy tour observes asylum seeker immigration court hearings in San Antonio, Texas

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On March 5, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project posted that Javier Martinez Hernandez, the legal coordinator for the Saltillo Migrant Shelter, and Lena Weber, the PBI-Mexico advocacy coordinator, “went to immigration court [in San Antonio, Texas] to observe asylum seeker hearings under the MPP-Migrant Protection Protocols program.”

What is the MPP?

The MPP, the Migrant Protection Protocols, is more commonly referred to as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.

On March 4, The New York Times reported, “Since the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was rolled out in January 2019, many of the estimated 60,000 migrants required to wait in Mexican border towns for their immigration hearings have been victimized by sexual assault, kidnap and torture.”

“On the Mexican side of the border, thousands of families are crammed into tent encampments, where unsanitary conditions and exposure to the elements have caused illness.”

What is the status of the MPP?

On March 6, The Hill reported, “A federal district court in California last April ruled that the policy violates U.S. immigration law and contravenes international human rights norms. The court ordered the administration to stop the practice along the entire U.S. border.”

The New York Times adds, “While insisting that a policy that has forced 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico violates United States law, a federal appeals court on Wednesday [March 4] granted the Trump administration’s request to keep the ‘Remain in Mexico’ restrictions in effect until March 11 for review by the Supreme Court.”

“If the Supreme Court does not grant the government’s request, the appeals court’s original decision will take effect on March 12 [in California and Arizona]. If the high court agrees to hear the case and grant another emergency stay, the policy, which has been in effect since January 2019, could remain in place for the foreseeable future.”

What is Canada’s position on the MPP?

Chris Rickerd of the American Civil Liberties Union has commented in the Toronto Star, “Canada, meanwhile, is renegotiating its Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. Currently, Canada prevents many immigrants from applying for asylum after being in the U.S., but an expanded agreement would bar those who enter by land between official crossing points.”

He adds, “His government recently enacted a provision blocking asylum seekers who applied in the U.S. and then enter Canada from regular procedures, relegating them to an inadequate ‘pre-removal risk assessment’.”

Martinez and Weber will be hosted by PBI-Canada from March 14-18 for meetings in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to discuss migrant rights with allies, lawyers, academics, parliamentarians and government officials.

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