The news of the admission broke on the same day that the Supreme Court despicably allowed the administration to continue enforcing the policy, which to date has forced out 62,000 people. In blocking the policy last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it “likely violated federal immigration law by ousting undocumented asylum seekers who are supposed to be allowed to apply for protection inside the United States,” The Washington Post reported, citing “multiple examples of Central American asylum seekers who feared kidnapping, threats and violence in Mexico.”
In a recent report, Human Rights First tracked over 800 reports of murder, torture, rape, kidnapping, and other violence against returned asylum-seekers. “Asylum seekers returned to Mexico are targeted for kidnapping and assault in shelters,” the report said, “in taxis and buses, on the streets while looking for food, work, and shelter, on their way to and from U.S. immigration court, and even while seeking help from Mexican police and migration officers.” The cousins were similarly targeted after being returned to Mexico.
The administration finally admitted these threats in court, debunking the administration’s lie that Remain in Mexico has “successfully provided protections” to asylum-seekers sent to Mexico. Terrill then argued that granting asylum to the kidnapped man “opens up the floodgates because everybody doesn’t have to show up as long as they have counsel.” Branding all people at the southern border as criminals and fraudsters is a popular trope in this administration, and thankfully one that Judge Danny Santander appeared to dismiss in disbelief at Terrill’s arguments.
“I think what I’m hearing from the government is, and I’ll be honest, I don’t like it,” the judge said, according to the audio. “What I’m hearing is, that well everybody has to take that risk and that chance, and you get kidnapped, you get kidnapped, that’s the risk you take for being in Mexico, and wanting to apply for asylum here in the United States … I don’t think it’s humane. But we’re talking about human beings and lives. It’s not a piece of paper in my opinion. And I really don’t like what I just heard.”
CNN reports that the kidnapped asylum-seeker was released physically unharmed after five days, and a judge waived deportation orders against the two cousins. While they remain in the U.S., it’s unclear whether they were granted asylum. When CNN correspondent Nick Valencia asked them what they thought about the administration’s claim that Remain in Mexico has “successfully provided protections,” one of the cousins was blunt. “It’s completely false,” she said. “At no moment are we safe. It’s a lie.”