*This is a mock position paper I wrote under the guidance of the School of the New York Times and an immigration lawyer in New York.

Mexican citizens hear the hope and promise of America and aspire to immigrate to a country portrayed as full of opportunity, prosperity, and protection. Whether the reason is domestic abuse, gang violence, famine, or the many other objectives for immigration, Mexicans flee instability and insecurity. Walking across the Southern border of the United States, they aren’t met with joyous relief. Instead, migrants are deported back to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols, where they must fight for their lives until their immigration hearing in America. The fact that MPP has the name “protection” in their name is a hoax; the MPP is romanticizing the migrants they are subjecting to destruction. Having immigrants return to a dangerous situation, providing no legal protection, and separating children from their parents, is a complete violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United States and the Migrant Protection Protocols. 

The MPP sends back Mexican immigrants to a camp in Mexico after already leaving the unsafe conditions of their cities and communities. Migrants who are a part of the MPP program are in wretched circumstances; facing the problem of kidnapping, rape, and exploitation, migrants must fight to survive in such an inhumane and dehumanizing situation. Not only is safety a distressing problem, but also the lack of necessities provided by MPP. Migrants live in conditions infiltrated with inadequate water supply, unsanitary shower and toilet situations, and nonexistent health care. As stated by Human Rights Watch, “Human Rights First has documented ‘at least 816 publicly reported cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, assault, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants returned to Mexico.'” Many of the UDHR articles are entirely non-collinear for the dangerous experiences migrants are undergoing while in the MPP. Maybe the most transparent article is Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The safety and security of the migrants under the MPP are at severe risk. 

Additionally, the MPP violates the UDHR through the MPP’s lack of legal support. Legal representation among Mexican migrants is scarce. Very few migrants ever feel the relief of asylum. American Immigration Council states, “The lack of counsel, combined with the danger and insecurity that individuals face in border towns, have made it nearly impossible for anyone subject to MPP to win asylum successfully.” Legal protection is a resource that each migrant should be provided. In another perspective, the MPP provides few methods for migrants to be in contact with lawyers. Most migrants do not have cell phones or access to money for long-distance phone calls to reach the United States. With no legal representation in immigration court provided by MPP, success rates for asylum are meager; Article 7 of the UDHR says, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” Without the provision of legal representation, Mexican migrants under the MPP are facing an inequality of protection. 

Lastly, migrant children are in peril while their parents are under MPP or they themselves fall under MPP. Migrant children are torn from their parents’ wrath, protection, and care and made to stay in the United States while their parents are deported to Mexico. The Young Center states, “the government has again failed to track family relationships or parent’s contact information, making communication and reunification nearly impossible.” However, an arguably worse situation is the children sent back to Mexico; a statistic by Support Kind reports that more than 16,000 children have been sent back to Mexico – a country where they are no longer safe.

Additionally, migrant children as young as toddlers are often left to represent themselves in immigration court. Very few of these children are ever granted asylum. Article 16 of the UDHR says, “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” Clearly, migrant children are not being treated with special care or assistance under the MPP or while their parents are a part of the MPP. Migrant families are ripped from each other’s security; simultaneously, children grow up without their family, and their parents fight for their safety in Mexico. Protection is not even close to the foundation of the Migrant Protection Protocols. 

In conclusion, the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border needs critical changes to align with its international obligations. Mexican migrants are sent back to their country, which awaits murder, violence, rape, and famine. The migrants’ lack of safety and security, the close to nonexistent legal support system, and the narrow fate of children migrants is a breach of countless articles in the UDHR. I have some recommendations with the best interest being towards the migrants. As for more long term goals, I believe the United States government needs to pass laws and legislature favoring migrant rights and their protection. In the more immediate future, the MPP needs to improve camps and the quality of life in the shelters. I also think instead of immigration trials happening online due to COVID-19, each and every migrant should be granted an in-person hearing; an emotional appeal — or pathos — is essential while handling migration. 

Citations:

  1. Human Rights Watch, “Q&A: Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico”… Program.” 29/01/2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/29/qa-trump-administrations-remain-mexico-program
  2. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights
  3. American Immigration Council, “The ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’” https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/migrant-protection-protocols
  4. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights
  5. Support Kind, “Remain in Mexico: Unlawful and Unsafe for Children” https://supportkind.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Remain-in-Mexico-Fact-Sheet-FINALv2-1.29.20.pdf
  6. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

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