The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project strongly condemns the Trump administration’s latest announced policy that would illegally require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are adjudicated. The policy, announced on December 20, 2018, is yet another in a series of calculated decisions that violate the human rights of those who seek refuge in the United States.

The right to seek asylum in the United States is unambiguously protected by U.S. and international law, and asylum seekers have the right to wait safely in the United States while their claims are being processed.

“This plan is yet another in a series of direct attacks on migrants and asylum seekers,” said Laura St. John, Legal Director at the Florence Project. “Everyone has a right to safety and fair treatment under the law, and this plan violates that right for those seeking refuge in the United States. It also callously places thousands of people in very real danger, since Mexico is not a safe place for the majority of migrants seeking protection.”

According to the plan, asylum seekers who present at a Port of Entry would be forced to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are adjudicated. Asylum claims can take months, or even years, to process, and this plan will endanger the lives of vulnerable migrants. Migrants are already at increased risk of violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, and forcing them to wait in limbo for months or years will only increase this danger.

Furthermore, this plan will effectively prevent asylum seekers from accessing legal resources and justice in the process of seeking asylum. Asylum seekers who are forced to wait in Mexico will undoubtedly have a difficult time finding legal support and access to information about the U.S. asylum system while being forced to wait in a third country. Additionally, attorneys will not be able to easily access and work with clients in another country. This will almost certainly result in asylum applicants with strong claims who have suffered immense trauma being deported due to lack of resources to assemble and present a thorough legal argument. For some migrants, deportation is a death sentence.

The impact that this policy will have on asylum seekers cannot be overstated, but the Florence Project, as we have for 30 years, stands ready to respond and serve migrants seeking refuge in Arizona.

We thank you for standing with us and our clients in the face of never-ending obstacles. As the calendar turns to 2019 and cruel and inhumane policies continue to be unveiled, your support is more important now than ever.