Wednesday, February 12, 2020
US: ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program Harming Children
Families Seeking Asylum Exposed to Violence, Illness, Trauma
A U.S. government program exposes children, as well as their parents, seeking asylum to serious risk of assault, mistreatment, and trauma while waiting for their cases to be heard, Human Rights Watch said today in a joint investigation report.
Human Rights Watch, along with Stanford University’s Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Program and Willamette University’s Child and Family Advocacy Clinic, found that the US Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, known as “Remain in Mexico,” compelled families with children to wait in Mexico for many months. Parents said that prolonged immigration court proceedings, fear of being incarcerated, and uncertainty about the future took a toll on their family’s health, safety, and well-being. Many described changes in their children’s behavior, saying they became more anxious or depressed after US authorities sent them to Mexico to await their hearings.
Human Rights Watch and other investigators interviewed parents and children from 60 families seeking asylum between November 2019 and January 2020. Most families were from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, with a few from Cuba, Ecuador, and Peru. The investigators also spoke with lawyers, doctors, shelter providers, faith leaders, and Mexican officials.