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‘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30 percent “other” rate meaning that those asylum cases either ended without a decision being ultimately made, or were withdrawn.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.”

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