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MCN Statement: New Migrant Policies Jeopardize the Health and Safety of Migrants

Woman stands with her baby and daughter

“A Guatemalan father and daughter were being held by kidnappers in Ciudad Juarez at the time of their US hearings in early July but were ordered deported because they didn’t show up to court.” - Reuters

Migrant Clinicians Network strongly denounces the Trump Administration’s highly controversial and unethical policy to force asylum seekers fleeing violence to ask for asylum in another country before asking in the US, known as the Safe 3rd Country rule, which was temporarily upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday while lower courts determine its legality.  Migrant Clinicians Network also condemns the new policy known as Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), which requires asylum seekers to wait for their US asylum case court dates in Mexico.  Combined, the two new policies threaten the safety and wellbeing of thousands of families and children who are asking for asylum legally under internationally established and accepted asylum protocol.

The two policies affect two different groups of asylum seekers: those who have already asked for asylum in recent months, and those who are arriving daily to ask for asylum. The MPP has resulted in hundreds of asylum seeking families being released on the Mexico side of the border from US detention facilities where they had been held. As a result, hundreds, including young children, are living on the streets in unsanitary conditions, with limited to no access to clean water, bathroom facilities, regular food, or health care. The region remains extremely dangerous, as gangs and cartels take advantage of asylum seekers, most of whom have relatives in the United States and are targets of kidnapping, extortion, and murder.

Meanwhile, the Safe 3rd Country policy, which was announced in July and blocked by a San Francisco-based federal judge, was temporarily cleared to continue by the Supreme Court while it is contested in the lower courts.. It puts already-vulnerable and traumatized families into extreme danger in Mexico, Guatemala, and elsewhere, where they are required to ask for asylum before asking in the US.

These two rules go firmly against longstanding and internationally recognized norms and rules on asylum by effectively closing the US border to asylum seekers. They also split families, as a majority of asylum seekers have family members in the US with whom they could safely await their court dates; asylum seekers instead have to to wait in countries where they may have no relations or connections. Most critically, these rules endanger the safety and health of people who have left their homes and are seeking safety. While the MPP forces asylum seekers to await their court dates in dangerous border towns, the Safe 3rd Country requires asylum seekers to seek asylum in highly dangerous countries like Guatemala, which advocates confirm is not a safe third country for most asylum seekers fleeing violence in their own country.

These rules are two more in a series of policy decisions that endanger the health and safety of migrant asylum seekers and immigrants in the US. Read Migrant Clinicians Network’s recent statements and opinion articles about the health implications of immigrant, migrant, and refugee policies:
Changes to Health Care Rights Law Endanger Health of My Patients
Health Care is a Human Right: MCN’s Statement on Finalized Public Charge Rule
Position Statement: Children Should Never Be Held In Detention
Position Statement: MCN Condemns Trump Administration Announcement of ICE Raids



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