The current administration has worked to systematically limit access to asylum at the border. When
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implemented metering in May 2018 at the ports of entry in
Nogales, migrants were abruptly faced with weeks and later months-long waits before being able to
formally begin their asylum process in the U.S. This dynamic was exacerbated with the subsequent
implementation of Migration Protection Protocol (MPP), otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico,” forcing
asylum seekers to wait months or years in Mexico for their U.S. asylum hearings. These policies have
obligated many of the migrants passing through Nogales to live in unsustainable uncertainty. Now the
Administration has used the global pandemic as a pretext to fully suspend asylum processing, denying
migrants fleeing persecution their right to refuge and due process in the United States.
Dozens of asylum seekers currently in Nogales, Sonora have been waiting since December to begin the
process of seeking protection in the US. The hundreds of asylum seekers returned to Nogales under
MPP have had their very first court dates rescheduled from March or April 2020 to October 2020, with no
guarantee that court will even be open by that date. Yet CBP continues to place newly arriving Cubans
and Venezuelans into MPP and returning them to prolonged limbo in Nogales, Sonora, even as they
subject asylum seekers from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to expulsions with no consideration
of their claims for protection.
Beyond metering, MPP, and the state of asylum during the pandemic, on June 15th the administration-
controlled Department of Homeland Security proposed a rule that would permanently dismantle the entire
asylum process with irreparable consequences extending far beyond the context of the pandemic. The
proposed rule appears to have been crafted to create insurmountable procedural obstacles, establish
high burdens of proof, and narrow the grounds for qualification for asylum. Under this new proposed rule,
the majority of migrants stranded in Nogales, Sonora would not meet the basic standards for asylum
qualification, and therefore, would never be heard in front of an immigration judge. The rule would
completely decimate a process meant to protect asylum seekers from improperly being returned to harm.
We believe that the United States government has the responsibility to fulfil the guarantees that it made to
refugees and that is why we are joining forces with other organizations, local leaders, communities of
faith, and asylum seekers in acting to save asylum.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?