After Being Denied Asylum By The US Some Migrants Are Returning Home With Mexico’s Help
There have been nearly 17,000 returns by asylum seekers to Mexico from the United States under the “Remain In Mexico” program. These nearly 17,000 people may wait months or even longer for their claims to work their way through the backlogged US immigration courts.
And under a recent agreement with Washington to head off threatened US tariffs on Mexican goods, Mexico agreed to an expansion of the program to other border points beyond the three cities in which it was already in place.
In conjunction with the US’ ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, Mexico has started assisting migrants with transport back home.
The Mexican government unveiled on Tuesday a new program to transport asylum seekers turned back by U.S. border officials back to their home countries in Central America.
In a statement, the Foreign Relations Department described it as the beginning of a “temporary program of voluntary return” for migrants in northern Mexico who wish to go home.
It said 69 people — 40 Hondurans, 22 Guatemalans and seven Salvadorans — were involved, and 66 of those were returnees under the U.S. program.
Carrying their belongings in plastic bags, adults and children lined up to board the bus in the morning.
One woman cradled her daughter on her lap and gazed out the window as they prepared to depart.
U.S. asylum cases can take months or years to be decided because of a massive backlog of immigration court cases. Even hearings can take months to be scheduled.
The migrants sent home on Tuesday had lived in Ciudad Juarez for as long as half a year while waiting for judges to rule on their asylum cases, Mexico’s migration institute (INM) said in a statement.
Some people had asylum hearings scheduled as far out as September 2020 and many were mothers with children, INM added.
Honduran migrant Angela Flores said she suffered during the wait in Ciudad Juarez, including extortion by police. “We wanted to go to the United States for a better future for our children… we’ve suffered humiliation, ugly things,” she said, without providing details.
Migrant advocates, as well as asylum officers, have slammed US immigration policy for the potential to put migrants at risk by sending them for extended periods to live in some of Mexico’s most violent cities. As well, rights groups worry that migrants who give up on their asylum claims could be sent back to the same dangerous situations they fled.
Meanwhile, vulnerable immigrants and refugees are being forced to stay in some of Mexico’s most dangerous cities.
Cities like Juarez and Tijuana can be dangerous places with high homicide rates. Farther east along the border, in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas, drug cartels have historically been known to target migrants for kidnapping, extortion and murder.
Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas across from Laredo, Texas, is one of three new cities to begin receiving returnees from the United States.
Selee said asylum seekers often find it hard to get by for long periods in Mexico while they wait for their claims to be decided, so it is not surprising some would want to leave.
Of the migrants returning on Tuesday, several declined interviews out of fear for their lives.
They said they had turned in criminals, putting their lives at risk if they were to be identified.
Another migrant said she had fled an abusive husband, which in the past has been grounds to be granted asylum in the United States.