Things That Matter

‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy Is Drastically Cutting The Number Of Asylum Seekers Being Granted Asylum

The Trump administration’s overhaul of the U.S. asylum system has led to drastic changes in the number of migrants being granted asylum, according to data published by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse UniversityOf the more than 47,000 asylum seekers who had been involved in the controversial “Remain in Mexico” program by the month of September, only 11 individuals, or 0.1 percent, of all completed cases were granted asylum. Less 10,000 migrants had even completed their cases and of that group, 5,085 of those cases were ultimately denied while 4,471 cases were discharged with no verdict given, many of those based on protocol issues. 

The shocking numbers can be attributed to the Migrant Protection Protocols, a program mostly known as “Remain in Mexico,” which requires asylum seekers to wait near the southern border while their claims are processed in the U.S. court system. The program was introduced in January to widespread criticism and was aimed at having migrants wait near the U.S. border despite the overwhelming majority of them not meeting policy standards. 

These numbers highlight just how difficult the Trump administration has made it for migrants to be granted asylum. 

The reality for many migrants in the “Remain in Mexico” program is that their claims will take months to process with a majority never even seeing a judge. The Trump administration has also made the criteria for migrants to win asylum cases increasingly difficult and these numbers highlight this issue. 

According to the data, of the more than 47,300 people involved in the program, 47,091 of them were “never detained.” Only 181 were ever detained in U.S. custody with 41 people being ultimately being released. It is presumed that the rest of the migrants who weren’t detained were then assigned to wait in Mexico for their case proceedings. 

The 0.1 percent asylum grant rate stands out significantly in relation to the 20 percent of people who were granted asylum outside of the “Remain in Mexico” policy. The data also reveals that almost half of all asylum cases end up being denied, 48 percent, while a 30 percent “other” rate meaning that those asylum cases either ended without a decision being ultimately made, or were withdrawn. 

In July, the Trump administration also implemented an “asylum ban” policy which makes non-Mexican asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border ineligible for asylum unless they’ve already requested asylum in another country. This has all led to a growing number of migrants being turned away or has led them to cross the border illegally.

Making the asylum process even harder is the expansion of the metering program which forces migrants to wait multiple months in Mexico due to a “limited amount of space”. 

The expansion of the metering program has also added to the increasingly difficult challenges for migrants. The program has forced migrants to wait at the southern border for months which has resulted in many being put in dangerous conditions. Immigration and human rights groups have frequently called out the Trump administration for those policies claiming that asylum seekers are vulnerable to violence in nearby Mexican border towns. 

“I would say defunding Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) would be a critical mistake. It’s one of our most successful initiatives,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in November. “Again, as I walk around and talk to the great men and women of Border Patrol and [Office of Field Operations] and others here — again, it’s critical to what they do each and every day to make sure that we can both control the flow, end catch and release.”

The metering expansion is being defended by officials at the Department of Homeland Security that say it is necessary since there is already limited room in holding facilities where migrants who enter the country without proper documentation are held. As of September, there are more than 10,000 migrants that are currently in Tijuana waiting to enter the U.S to legally apply for asylum. While there is no timetable for how long they have been waiting, many have shared stories of the long weeks that have turned into months as they wait to enter the U.S. This has led to some entering illegally or just giving up on the process altogether and heading back home. 

“There’s metering, there’s Remain in Mexico, there’s the new asylum ban. Basically, the process is blocking people from getting asylum,” Kennji Kizuka, senior researcher and policy analyst for Human Rights First, told the San Diego Tribune. 

Many migrants have been left with little to no options if seeking asylum. These latest numbers reveal the dangers that await a majority waiting at the U.S. southern border. 

For migrants waiting for their asylum cases to be processed in Mexico, they are forced to wait in dangerous conditions that are just as bad as the ones they are trying to escape. This situation has played out over the last year as numbers recorded and research by the Human Rights First group show a startling trend when it comes to asylum seekers who are part of the “Remain in Mexico” program. He “identified 636 reported cases of kidnapping, torture and another violent attack on asylum seekers,” which also includes “138 cases of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping of children.”

“There are people who just cannot take it anymore,” Kizuka said. “They would rather die at home than die in a foreign country where their families won’t be able to come for their remains and give them a proper burial.”

READ: A Chilean Military Plane With 38 People On Board Crashed While On The Way To A Base In Antarctica

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

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This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Things That Matter

This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Lawyers are working hard to get a deportation order removed against a woman who just left a church sanctuary after three years in the refuge. Although she was previously denied asylum in the U.S., advocates are hoping that under new direction from the Biden administration, her case will be reviewed and she’ll be able to stay with her family in Ohio – where she’s lived for more than twenty years.

A mother of three is back with her family after living three years inside a church.

A mother of three who sought refugee inside an Ohio church from immigration authorities has finally been able to leave three years later. Edith Espinal, who herself is an immigrant rights advocate, had been living at the Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 to avoid being deported to Mexico. She’s now out of the church and back with her family following a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who have agreed that she’s not an immediate priority for deportation.

“Finally, I can go home,” Espinal told reporters after meeting with the officials. With tears of relief, she celebrated the small victory in the presence of dozens of supporters who accompanied her to the ICE building.

“But it is not the end of her case. We’re still going to have to fight,” her attorney Lizbeth Mateo said.

ICE has agreed to hold off on her deportation proceedings pending her asylum request.

Espinal was released under an order of supervision, meaning that while she’s not considered an immediate priority for deportation, she must periodically check in with ICE officials to inform them about her whereabouts.

She has lived in Columbus for more than two decades and had previously applied for asylum, citing rising violence in her home state of Michoacán. But she eventually was ordered to leave the country, which is when she sought refuge inside the Columbus, Ohio church.

“We’re going to continue pressing the Biden administration to do the right thing, and try to get rid of that order of deportation against Edith, so she can walk freely like everyone else does without fear,” Mateo said during the press conference.

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