The Trump Administration’s Migrant Persecution Protocols
On Thursday, we met Blanca*, who fled homophobic violence in Guatemala with her partner Laura*, and Laura’s son to seek asylum in the United States. “When we told [Border Patrol] we were a couple, the officers in the green uniforms told us that if we weren’t married, we couldn’t stay together,” Blanca said. Laura and her son were released, but Blanca was expelled to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where she must wait until an initial immigration court hearing in July.
“No one ever asked if I was afraid of being in Mexico,” Blanca said. “They just gave me papers to sign. That’s it.”
Last Friday, after threats by the Trump Administration to impose tariffs, the Mexican government apparently agreed to an expansion of the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) – the policy the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used to expel over ten thousand Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran asylum seekers since late January. There they must wait, often in serious danger and largely cut off from the attorneys who could help them apply for and receive asylum.
Blanca was returned to Mexico after spending 20 days separated from her family in Border Patrol holding cells. In her first hours in Juarez, she was walking with other asylum seekers when a group of men followed them, then robbed them. Blanca sought safety at the main migrant shelter, but it was at capacity, so she ended up in a rented room with other asylum seekers at a hotel catering to migrants. Later, she and other asylum seekers were again attacked and beaten by a group of men. “After what happened, I hardly ever go out,” she said. “I’m really scared of the situation here.” Other asylum seekers forced back into Mexico have been kidnapped, raped, robbed, and extorted.
On Thursday, in a seemingly quiet section of Juarez, we met Karen* at a church that runs an informal shelter for asylum seekers. Gang violence forced her to flee Guatemala with her partner, two-year-old son, father, 8-year-old brother, and twin 5-year-old sisters. They knew they couldn’t stay in Guatemala after gang members showered their house with bullets because her father had reported the gang to the police for threatening another family member.