On January 24, 2019, the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy took effect, forcing people seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico while their cases are under review. In response, Vicki Gass, Oxfam America Senior Policy Advisor for Central America and Mexico, issued the following statement:
"Instead of letting people remain in the U.S. and take measures to speed up the processing of asylum requests, the Trump administration continues to take every imaginable action it can dream up to try to keep migrants out – irrespective of whether it is legal, humane, effective, or consistent with American values. This is one more revolting Trump policy that we urge Congress to investigate and reverse.
The only crisis at the border is a policy crisis that fails to support the unprecedented number of children and families who were forced to flee their countries and are seeking asylum in the U.S. By finding yet another way to slam the door on those in need of safe haven, the Trump administration is proving it has little respect for either the rule of law nor compassion for those fleeing for their lives.
This latest, sickening attempt of the administration to deter migrants fleeing their home countries endangers those who would seek protection under the United States’ asylum laws. Instead of arriving in a safe and orderly fashion at official ports of entry, asylum-seekers will be forced to travel across treacherous dry or mountainous terrain to cross the border or required to stay in Mexico border-states plagued with violence from drug cartels and organized crime. These border states are not safe for asylum-seekers; the US State Department itself maintains severe travel warnings for all but one of the Mexican states along the border.
It is abundantly clear that the U.S. metering policy limiting the number of how many asylum claims are processed each day is causing a huge bottleneck and placing an enormous strain on Mexican social service agencies. Returning asylum-seekers from the US will not only add to this burden but will create a real humanitarian crisis. The Mexican government does not have the resources nor infrastructure to guarantee that the needs of the Central American asylum-seekers are met and the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations has stated clearly that Mexico is not a third safe country.
Rather than attack women, children and vulnerable populations, the US should guarantee their rights to seek asylum and to due process, and instead address the root causes forcing people to leave their countries in the first place."