New York, NY, February 28, 2020 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to the ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the Trump Administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), by lifting the emergency stay and affirming a previous decision of the federal district court to issue a preliminary injunction.
Olga Byrne, Director of U.S. Immigration for the International Rescue Committee said:
"The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy has been a substantial pillar of the Trump Administration’s disastrously broken policymaking that left tens of thousands of asylum-seekers in harm's way and has exacerbated the already unstable conditions on the Mexican side of the border. Over 60,000 people with only the clothes on their backs have been forced to wait for months in dangerous conditions for a chance to meet with a U.S. judge so they can plead their case for asylum.
“MPP has been implemented despite US treaty obligations, international human rights standards, and U.S. domestic law which affords people fleeing persecution and violence a fair chance to seek protection. We have seen the devastating impacts of MPP on both sides of the border. IRC has served numerous families who have been allowed into the US after months of waiting in Mexico, often due to significant safety concerns and requiring advocacy of multiple organizations across borders.
“We have seen children hospitalized, families separated, and parents in desperation over what will happen next as they continue their uncertain journey through the U.S. immigration system. In one of thousands of examples, the IRC collaborated with multiple non-governmental agencies to help a family, who after being forced to wait in a particularly dangerous region of Mexico for months with their three children, were all reunited in the US so that one of their children could be rushed to the hospital for emergency heart surgery. This child is recovering, but many others who have been subjected to MPP are at high risk of severe negative impacts.”
The IRC’s work in Ciudad Juarez with women and girl asylum-seekers demonstrates that Mexico is not a safe country for asylum-seekers to wait out their claims in court. Policies like MPP have left asylum-seekers subject to significant security, health, and protection risks, often for months -- exposing them to serious threats to their safety, as well as considerable challenges in accessing legal representation or even basic logistical information about how to attend their court hearings in the US. Because of Remain in Mexico, in Ciudad Juarez alone, there are around 10,000 people waiting with pending US hearings and shelters are overwhelmed. Along with lack of services, this leaves women, often with young children, at particular risk. No matter where asylum-seekers get blocked or are forced to wait along the border, they remain highly vulnerable in Mexico to the same type of exploitation, abuse and targeted violence that forced them to flee in the first place.
The IRC will work with partners to ensure MPP-impacted families and individuals are given every chance possible to benefit from the positive impact of this ruling and be one step closer to having a fair chance at having their asylum claims heard. The IRC continues to call on U.S. Congress to pass legislation, like the Refugee Protection Act, that would strengthen and expand protections for those in need of safe haven.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.