|The number of Mexican families and asylum seekers trying to cross the United States border has been increasing, raising fears of the border crisis / Photo by: Michał Huniewicz via Flickr|
The number of Mexican families and asylum seekers trying to cross the United States border has been increasing, raising fears of the border crisis, reports the Washington Post.
Although thousands of asylum seekers are now only waiting for the completion of their immigration cases under the Trump administration policy called “Remain in Mexico,” many of them have already grown frustrated. Some, while holding their newborns, have tried confronting the Mexican soldiers to challenge the waiting list that has kept them out of the United States "unfairly."
Right of Asylum and Immigration Law
The International Justice Resource Center, a nonprofit human rights organization that helps provide protection to victims and advocates seeking to better understand and effectively engage in human rights, has defined an asylum seeker as a person within a State party asking for protection after arriving in the host country. They are required to prove that there is a “well-founded fear of persecution” if they return to their habitual residence or nationality. A foreign national who seeks asylum in the US also has to prove that the supposed persecution is due to membership in a certain social group, nationality, political opinion, religion, and race.
Fear of Cartel Violence
Many of the Mexican families claim that they are escaping the flaring drug violence and corruption in their homeland. In the Mexican state of Sinaloa, for instance, cartel gunmen possess automatic weapons and are attacking vehicles and security forces. American news-based pay-TV channel CNN was able to obtain letters from some of the migrants waiting on the Mexico border. These migrants wrote that they are in desperate fear of kidnappings and cartel violence. Drugs are allegedly poured across the border using these cartels, causing the lives of thousands of people.
The asylum-seekers are facing the threats of kidnapping and extortion too from the cartels that are controlling the area. Ministry El Buen Samaritano Migrante’s pastor Lorenzo Ortiz said that “the danger is real.” El Buen Samaritano Migrante helps the migrants by providing them with shelter along the border. The pastor added that cartels are looking for Central Americans and these people are easy to target because they are usually released by the US authorities wearing footwear without laces and carrying a manila folder that contains their documents.
One migrant named Tere wrote that she and her 7-year-old son were kidnapped the moment they reached the US border and were also held by the kidnappers for nine days without food. They were only released after their family paid the ransom money. Others have been assaulted while some lost their fingers to the cartels.
|Many of the Mexican families claim that they are escaping the flaring drug violence and corruption in their homeland / Photo by: Knight Foundation via Flickr|
In another report shared by online news publication the Intercept, many Mexican children are presenting themselves at the border alone. A 42-year-old Honduran mother named Emma shares her story of how she and her 16-year-old son walked to the banks of the Rio Grande River and followed what other parents did: send their children alone to the US.
Under longstanding policy and law, migrants below 18 years old who present themselves at the border without their biological parents must be admitted. Their life will likewise be superior to the border camp. Some parents choose this option rather than wait months in dangerous conditions before their immigration applications will be resolved.
|In another report shared by online news publication the Intercept, many Mexican children are presenting themselves at the border alone / Photo by: Tomas Castelazo via Wikimedia Commons|
Remain in Mexico Policy
Since January, the policy Remain in Mexico has forced 55,000 asylum seekers, including 16,000 kids, to wait on the border of Mexico while their asylum claims are still undergoing. In July 2019, nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) also released a report titled “We Can’t Help You Here.” The report emphasized how the Trump administration has pursued various policy initiatives just to make it harder for asylum seekers to flee their homes and seek help in the US. Some initiatives implemented include limiting the number of people processed every day at the ports of entry, tightening eligibility for asylum seekers, prolonging their detention, and separating families.
The HRW moreover said the US policy undermines the right of asylum seekers to due process by making it more difficult for them to sustain themselves and remain safe while their applications are pending.
Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers
The total number of internally displaced persons, refugees, and asylum seekers coming from the US in 2016 reached 712,793, according to Human Progress, a group that gathers empirical data from reliable sources that look at worldwide long-term trends. In 1951, the US ranked first with the highest number of internally displaced persons, refugees, and asylum seekers. In 2016, it went down to rank 21. Mexico, on the other hand, was ranked 106th with only 8,800 of them considered as internally displaced persons, refugees, or having sought asylum to other nations.
Countries with the highest rate include Columbia (7,411,429), Syria (7,131,878), Iraq (5,325,983), Congo (Kinshasa) (3,327,644), Yemen (3,280,251), Turkey (3,116,099), and Nigeria (2,911,120). On the other hand, countries with no internally displaced persons and asylum seekers include Turks and Caicos, Timor Leste, Singapore, Seychelles, Samoa, Palau, and Micronesia, among others.
People running from a genuine life-or-death situation should not be deprived of their right to political asylum. Although it is understandable that there are countries that may be struggling to maintain the balance between offering protection and controlling the national borders, the administration should recognize that asylum seekers don’t deserve to be treated in a cruel and inhumane way.