Things That Matter

They Were Told To Wait In Mexico And Followed Every US Law, Now They’re Being Denied The Right To Claim Asylum

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other immigrant advocacy groups believe the Trump administration is using three recent measures to effectively pull a “bait and switch” on migrants seeking asylum. The first measure is referred to as “metering” which limits the number of asylum seekers accepted at the United States and Mexican border. 

The second is the Migrant Protection Protocols which requires Central American asylum seekers to stay in Mexico for the duration of their legal proceedings.

The third measure known as the “safe third country” deals requires that migrants seek asylum in the first country they pass through before applying in the United States. This essentially bans all asylum seekers at the southern border except for Mexicans. 

Advocates say the result of the third measure means thousands of migrants who were stuck waiting due to metering or MPP will never be able to apply for asylum in the U.S. and are being punished for correctly using the legal system.

How the “safe third country” deal works to ban most asylum seekers.

The “safe third country” deals or transit ban, which is being challenged in the courts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), requires migrants to apply for asylum in the first country they pass through before they’re eligible to apply in the United States. Any migrants from Central America who travel through Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala would have to apply there first.

 According to Vox, “under both international torture agreements and the asylum system,” the administration can send migrants, “back to Central America, where rampant crime, violence, and corruption is driving tens of thousands to flee.” 

However, because this policy only took effect on September 12, many asylum seekers who were forced to wait due to metering or MPP before the rule was in place, will now be turned away. 

Attorneys say the government pulled “immoral bait and switch.” 

The Associated Press highlighted one Salvadoran family who was put in the situation many migrants now face. Julio Lopez and his family chose to seek U.S. protection legally. The new ban applies to any migrants who arrived after July 16, the Lopez family reached the border before the cut off date, but are still suffering the consequences because of a different policy. The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) require asylum-seeking Central Americans to remain in Mexico while their legal proceedings take place. 

This means that although the Lopez family arrived in the U.S. before the July 16 cut off, because they were forced to wait in Mexico long enough for the “safe third country” deals to go in effect last September, they are no longer eligible to seek asylum in the United States — they would have to apply in the country they passed through before. 

“I’m being punished for doing it the correct way,” Lopez told the Associated Press. “It’s unjust.”

The SPLC and ACLU believe this is unfair and have challenged the procedure in court so that the new restrictions do not apply to anyone who was claiming asylum before July 16. 

Advocates are challenging the policies in the courts. 

Multiple lawsuits by the SPLC, ACLU, and advocacy groups like Al Otro Lado have been filed to challenge the three policies. However, the battle to ban asylum seekers has taken a bizarre turn in the courts. The Supreme Court ruled that the ban can take effect while lawyers challenge the policy going against a previous Supreme Court ruling of the same ban. 

“On September 11th, this year, the Supreme Court ruled—and issued a stay, in contrast to what it had done with the first asylum ban. This time the Court said that the second asylum ban could go into effect immediately nationwide,” Lee Gelernt a lawyer with the ACLU told the New Yorker

Gelernt believes the ban assumes that El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are safe countries with functioning asylum systems, but migrants will “continue to be in danger, that the gangs who have been attacking them—or the perpetrator of the domestic violence they’re fleeing, or other types of danger—can easily locate them in Guatemala or Mexico; they will not be safe.”

SPLC will challenge metering claiming that the daily migrant limits deny the individual’s right to seek asylum under international and U.S. laws. 

“This is not the DMV. This is not the deli counter. There shouldn’t be numbers,” said SPLC attorney Melissa Crow.

Challengers to the MPP assert that the executive branch of the U.S. government does not have the legal authority to force asylum seekers to go to Mexico to wait for legal proceedings. 

While these legal proceedings take place and migrants are forced to wait in dangerous countries their lives are increasingly put at risk. In the meantime, Julio Lopez and his family are prepared to do what is necessary to survive.

“I can go to (immigration) court with my head held high and say, ‘Sir, I have followed the laws of the United States,” he told said. 

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It’s Like “A War Zone” At The Border Wall As Injured Migrants Are Being Sent Back Without Medical Treatment

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It’s Like “A War Zone” At The Border Wall As Injured Migrants Are Being Sent Back Without Medical Treatment

John Moore/Getty Images

For years we’ve heard of horrific stories from the U.S.-Mexico border, and things only seemed to get worse under the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane policies.

Now, with new segments of border wall finished – including 15-feet-tall segments with barbed wire – many people who attempt to cross the border wall are falling victim to severe injuries as they fall to the ground or are torn up by razor wire. Although many are falling into the U.S. side of the border, where they should be receiving medical care once apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol, many are being immediately returned to Mexico.

U.S. Border Patrol is returning severely injured migrants to Mexico without medical care.

Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful wall,” which has torn apart communities along the border region and done nothing to curb migrants and refugees from attempting to reach the U.S., is leading to crippling injuries to people attempting to cross the border amid worsening situations in their home countries.

According to one Texas pastor, Rosalio Sosa, who runs a network of migrant shelters known as Red de Albergues Para Migrantes (RAM), told Dallas News a shelter in Palomas gets about seven injured migrants per week and the situation there looks like that of a “war zone,” with the number of injured piling up.

“This has become a war zone, with war injuries and no resources,” he said. “But governments need to know that deserts, rivers, walls are no match for hunger.”

According to Sosa, Border Patrol routinely sends migrants to Palomas with a range of injuries from minor to serious including those who have fallen off the Border Wall. 

“They just pick them up and send them over here. No wheelchair, nothing. Not even a Tylenol,” Sosa said.  The shelter works to get the men medical care in Mexico.

Many migrants confirm what the pastor is alleging, saying they’re being dumped like garbage.

Many of those who have attempted to enter the U.S. are fleeing political unrest and economic uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic. They allege that they are being “dumped” back in “Mexico like garbage” without any help or medical aide from Border Patrol.

Pedro Gomez, who attempted to flee Guatemala in January, said his ankles were broken after falling from the wall and he had to crawl to the US border agent’s vehicle.

“I couldn’t even get up, so I crawled inside the migra [US Border patrol] vehicle”, Mr. Gomez said, adding: “they dumped us in Mexico like garbage, a piece of trash. They said ‘stand up, stand up.’ I don’t know where I found the strength.”

For their part, the Border Patrol denies any allegations of mistreatment.

The U.S. Border Patrol has routinely denied any wrongdoing. In fact, in response to multiple allegations from the pastor and several migrants who claim mistreatment, the agency released a statement rejecting the claims. It said the agents regularly encountered injured migrants and administered medical aid to those hurt.

“We routinely encounter injured people on the border, most of which are individuals that have entered the country illegally. When it is apparent that someone is hurt we will administer first aid and request assistance as needed,” El Paso sector border patrol chief, Gloria Chavez, said in the statement.

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Honduras Moves To Enshrine Bans On Abortion And Marriage Equality In The Constitution

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Honduras Moves To Enshrine Bans On Abortion And Marriage Equality In The Constitution

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images

Honduras already has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion. It’s completely banned in all circumstances, including even in cases of rape and incest, and when the person’s life and the health are in danger. The country also has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, including recognizing those that were performed abroad.

So, why is the country moving to further limit access to abortion and marriage equality?

The Honduran Congress has voted to make it impossible to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the first round of voting, the country’s congress had voted to move forward on complete and total constitutional bans against abortion and marriage equality. But lawmakers are taking it a step further, by increasing the votes needed to undo their constitutional amendments in the future.

One lawmaker referred to the legislation as a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

However, the amendments require a second reading/vote and activists across the country (and world) are mobilizing to help stop these amendments from being voted in. But they face an uphill battle, as the legislation has overwhelming support within Congress and from the country’s staunchly conservative president.

Honduras already has among the world’s strictest bans on abortion.

Abortion in Honduras is already illegal in all circumstances. The country’s criminal code imposes prison sentences of up to six years on people who undergo abortions and medical professionals who provide them. The government also bans emergency contraception, or “the morning after pill,” which can prevent pregnancy after rape, unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure.

“Honduras’ draconian legislation already bans abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, when the person’s life and the health are in danger, and when the fetus will not survive outside the womb,” said Ximena Casas, Americas women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This decree will make it virtually impossible to carry out the recommendations from multiple international human rights bodies to end this violation of reproductive rights.”

Honduras also already has a strict ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2005 constitutional amendment prohibits recognizing marriage between people of the same sex, including same-sex marriages contracted in other countries. Honduras also bans adoption by same-sex couples.

“By seeking to permanently and comprehensively block any possibility of accessing marriage for same-sex couples, the Honduran Congress is entrenching state-sponsored homophobia,” said Cristian González Cabrera, Americas lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“In a country where LGBT people already experience high levels of violence and discrimination, this effort to amend the constitution is sending the message that these people may be further stigmatized.”

Congress is also making it harder for future lawmakers to undo their constitutional amendments.

Not only was it not enough to double down on these draconian bans on abortion and marriage equality, lawmakers are moving to increase the threshold of votes to undo their bans.

Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body. The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favor, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

Many see the constitutional amendment as a response to Argentina’s move to legalize abortion last month.

It was just last month that Argentina voted in favor of legalizing access to abortion. The South American nation became the largest Latin American country to allow abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favor to 29 against, with one abstention.

For years, abortion has also been illegal in Argentina. The procedure was illegal except in cases where the mother or baby’s lives were in danger. In 2019, the country passed a law that also included rape victims as exceptions. 

The push towards various kinds of gender rights–including abortion rights–has been central to President Alberto Fernández’s administration. The center-left politician campaigned on a platform that emphasized the rights of women, gay, and trans communities since he was elected in 2019. Even throughout the devastation of the pandemic, Fernández has insisted on keeping his promises towards marginalized communities.

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