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DHS ‘Red Team’ Report Finds Significant Violations in the Implementation of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy

US Border Officials Pressured Asylum Officers To Deny Entry To Immigrants Seeking Protection, A Report Finds” by Hamad Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, November 14, 2019

A draft “Red Team” report authored by senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials reveals DHS’ awareness of serious problems with the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that are preventing asylum-seekers from receiving a fair day in court and exposing them to inhumane and dangerous conditions in Mexico. According to one DHS official, “The big takeaway from it is that MPP [Migrant Protection Protocols] is not working. … Some of these recommendations are phrased mildly but suggest they found serious problems that need to be remedied.”

The report calls for clarification of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) role in MPP. Under the terms of the Remain in Mexico policy, if an individual affirmatively expresses a fear of persecution or torture if they are returned to Mexico, CBP personnel should refer them to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officer for an interview. According to the report, some individuals and families have not been offered interviews, and CBP officials have pressured asylum officers to rule against offering protections. Some Mexican asylum-seekers also have been forced to return to Mexico in violation of not only the terms of the program but also U.S. and international law.

The Red Team report makes clear that DHS’ Remain in Mexico policy is operating in violation of the law and of the United States’ longstanding commitment to offering protections to people fleeing violence and persecution. The program is just one part of a larger attack on asylum and immigration and is further undermining the rule of law in the U.S. immigration system.

For more on how to reframe the immigration debate, see CAP’s report: “Restoring the Rule of Law Through a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System.”