Though Hearings Are Supposed To Be Underway, Asylum-Seekers Remain Stuck In Mexico

Some migrants in Nuevo Laredo report being coerced to leave the border area before their scheduled asylum hearings in the U.S.

By Laura Rice & Kristen CabreraSeptember 10, 2019 6:53 am,

On Monday, a judge reinstated a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration rule that requires asylum-seekers to ask for asylum in another country before coming to the U.S. That means the rule is not currently in place. But the judge’s ruling did not affect the Migrant Protection Protocol, also known as the “remain in Mexico” program. That program requires non-Mexican, Spanish-speaking migrants to wait on the Mexican side of the border until an immigration judge hears their asylum case. This program has been implemented in stages along the Texas border, beginning in El Paso, before launching in Brownsville and Laredo.

Gus Bova covers immigration for The Texas Observer. He says the population affected by the Migrant Protection Protocol accounts for the majority of asylum-seekers.

“They’ve just been returning them by the thousands,” Bova says. “There’s been over 6,000 of them returned so far in Laredo, over 6,000 returned in Brownsville. In total, we’re up to 42,000 nationwide.”

In the El Paso/Juarez area, hearings are being held for asylum-seekers, and have been for months. 

“What’s unique about Laredo and Brownsville is these tent facilities that are built right in the port, because there is no immigration court,” Bova says. “There’s already an immigration court in El Paso.”

Bova says that the tent-based courts in Laredo and Brownsville, with immigration judges connecting by video from San Antonio, have created challenges for asylum-seekers and barriers for journalists trying to cover the proceedings.

“There’ll be dozens of individual tent courts where the migrant is, and they’re staring at a video, and I suppose, trying to plead their case for asylum,” Bova says.

He says that in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across the border from Laredo, asylum-seekers have told him “they have been coerced to take buses to the city of Monterey, which is a couple of hours away, or all the way to Chiapas… on the border with Guatemala.”

Asylum-seekers forced to remain in Mexico are homeless, and struggle to find work as they wait for their hearing dates


Written by Shelly Brisbin.