Migrant Rights Groups Sue US for Sending Families Back to Mexico
The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center file lawsuit
Migrant rights groups have begun filing lawsuits against the Trump administration as authorities commenced sending asylum seeking migrant families back to Mexico to wait for their claims to be processed.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center are suing on behalf of 11 anonymous asylum seekers and six migrants' rights groups.
The groups demand an end to the Trump administration's "Migrant Protection Protocols" policy, in which asylum seekers are required to wait in Mexico for their cases to be processed.
According to the lawsuit, the asylum-seekers in question were sent back to Mexico on January 30 and now allegedly "fear for their lives."
The migrant group reportedly includes 10 men and one woman from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, a source close to the case said.
The woman is reported as a lesbian who claims she was raped because of her 'sexual orientation.'
The suit titled Innovation Law Lab et al. v. Nielsen et al., targets the Department of Homeland Security and its head Kirstjen Nielsen.
According to AZ Central: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which initially implemented it as a pilot program, made it clear that they had planned to send back families as well, despite objections from the Mexican government.
Mexico's National Migration Institute has held that the U.S. acted unilaterally in implementing the program and that it would not allow minors — unaccompanied or as part of families. Still, it agreed to issue humanitarian visas and protection to those migrants returned to the country.
Neither U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or the National Migration Institute have replied to requests for comment.
But the Mexican agency did release updated statistics on the number of migrants it has accepted back.
As of Thursday, the U.S. had returned 73 individuals, they said.
The four families returned to Tijuana on Wednesday are staying at two shelters in the city, according to migrant aid groups on the ground.
Their arrival could complicate an already complex situation.
Although there are more than a dozen permanent shelters in the border city, very few support families and minors.
Those that do are already at or over the limit, with families waiting for their chance to talk to immigration officers in the next few weeks, and new families that are arriving daily.
The rollout of the Migrant Protection Protocols began slowly late last month when customs officers returned alone asylum seeker from Central America.
Since then, the number has been increasing.
Wednesday's total of 18 migrants, which included the four families, is the largest daily number returned to Mexico so far, according to information tracked by migrant advocates in Tijuana.
The Mexican government has said they would allow no more than 20 migrants per day.
n Thursday, several civil liberties groups filed a legal challenge in federal court in San Francisco, asking the judge to strike it down because it infringes several national and international laws protecting asylum-seekers.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 of the Central American migrants who were returned to Tijuana in the past two weeks, as well as several organizations that serve with asylum-seekers.