More than 60,000 people with pending requests of sanctuary have been pushed past the southern border at the Supreme Courts decision to enforce the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Despite the lower courts proclaiming the program as illegal and ordering its suspension, this policy continues as the administration appeals to lower courts that claimed the program illegal. They ordered a suspension of the policy. The only justice of the Supreme Court that publicly dissented of allowing the policy to continue.
The policy was put into place to stop entry of asylum-seekers, many of whom are Central American. More than 60,000 have been barred from entry since the program was put into play more than a year ago. Asylum seekers must wait across the southern border in often danger filled cities as their case slowly makes its way through immigration courts. According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, only 5.3% of the asylum-seekers that this policy affected actually had lawyers through January.
Without those lawyers, only 4% of Remain in Mexico decisions had resulted in asylum. Now, the coronavirus presents makes to shrink even that percentage to even smaller numbers as a ban on nonessential travel to Mexico is put in order. Many courts have been closed, but continue some Remain in Mexico hearings.
However, the unfairness of the policy still exists. Unlike criminals, the government will not pay for any lawyer expenses the asylum-seekers have to pay, even for those who cannot afford one. A private attorney will typically charge for around $7,000.
It has been said that the policy violates U.S. immigration law. The court ordered the practice to stop, but this was only applied to California and Arizona.
Now, another element has been added to the madness. COVID-19. In the name of public health, asylum seekers have been dispersed. They have been sent to the nearest border crossing and sent back to Mexico without any chance to apply for asylum. Mexico is accepting Mexicans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorians, and Hondurans who accounted for over half the border arrests last year.
On March 20th, Trump announced that the southern border was closed to nonessential travel. On that day, a new law was passed. This allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to block foreigners from entry because of the danger of spreading the disease.
Everyone is being turned away. No asylum is being provided for anyone. Many different policies have been going around the U.S. to flatten the curve. People are only permitted to leave their home for essentials, meetings of more than a shrinking number of people is not allowed, and people have been locked into their homes. Keeping people away from each other to stop the virus in its tracks is vital and is saving lives. Turning people away, who run to our country with good reason, and sending them back to where they came… Is that saving lives?