Central American migrants in Limbo after shift in US asylum policy

World Today

There has been a drop in Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Analysts said it’s due to reasons like the dangers of the summer season’s heat, and Mexico’s crackdown on migrants.

But, as CGTN’s Dan Williams reported, there’s also a policy leaving asylum seekers in limbo in Mexico.

Two people jumped from a car and made a dash for the U.S. border. Nearby, two Mexican National Guards patrolled the area.

Within seconds, the two migrants were in U.S. territory. There was little the guards could do. The migrants to be picked up by U.S. border patrol.

But the flow of migrants into the U.S. appeared to have slowed in recent months following new policies by the Trump administration.

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, or the “Remain in Mexico” policy, meant migrants must stay in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated.

Dilcia Aceituno and her son Anthony left Honduras because of the violence there. Her husband and other twin son have already reached Houston, Texas.

But having been separated on the journey, Dilcia and Anthony had been stuck in Juarez for months.

“I miss my child and I miss my partner because my son has been suffering for his brother because they are twins,” Aceituno said.

Asylum seekers faced a long wait. First, they were given a number, a system known as ‘metering.’ The process started when the number is called. But that can take weeks.

Then, under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, asylum seekers can wait many months in Mexico before they are called to have their cases heard by a judge.

Among those stranded was Michael, a former soldier that left Honduras with his four children. They had their papers and were awaiting a court date.

“I hope they don’t send us back,” he said. “Because the truth is that we come from a very dangerous area and if they send us back. It is like they send us to our deaths.”

The hostel they stayed at was originally set up to help abused and vulnerable women and children from the Juarez region. The shelter welcomed its first migrants just four months ago. It now houses more than 240.

Ismael Martinez ran the shelter. He was already preparing for more arrivals.

“Thousands and thousands are going to stay here in Mexico. There is not another option to go back to their country,” Martinez explained.

Since the “Remain in Mexico” program began in January some 20,000 migrants had been sent back to Mexico.

Many of the shelters in Juarez were stretched to capacity. “‘Remain in Mexico’ essentially asks Mexico to meet their international obligations while we get to not meet ours,” Linda Rivas, Executive Director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, said.

Along the border, a group of migrants huddled next to an emergency gate at the wall. They hoped a U.S. border patrol will soon pick them up. For many, that would begin another journey back across a border they risked so much to cross.