Congresswoman Veronica Escobar Introduces Legislation to Defund Dangerous ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy

May 10, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) today introduced H.R. 2662, the Asylum Seeker Protection Act. The legislation aims to defund the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, known as ‘Remain in Mexico,’ which deprives asylum seekers of due process and endangers their safety and well-being.

“While we all acknowledge that we face significant challenges with the increasing number of migrants at our southern border, America’s response should never include cruelty. The Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy is yet another attempt to bend our immigration laws in order to block asylum seekers from accessing due process by sending them into dangerous conditions in another country to await their asylum hearing,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “The Asylum Seeker Protection Act would put an end to this policy that purposely endangers lives, and would uphold due process, which is an American value.”

“This bill is urgently needed to reduce suffering by migrant families and children caused by the Trump administration’s unlawful Remain in Mexico policy. Thousands of asylum seekers already returned by DHS to Mexico, including families with children, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations, have been harmed, with many experiencing violence and deprivation,” said Astrid Dominguez, Director of the ACLU Border Rights Center. “Defunding the Remain in Mexico policy is vital to protecting the lives of people seeking America's protection from danger in their home countries, and to restoring respect for the legal and human right to asylum.”

“Border communities are showing the nation that we can receive asylum seekers fleeing situations of desperation with dignity, humanity as well as safety and security,” said Dylan Corbett, Director of the Hope Border Institute. “Congresswoman Escobar’s efforts to halt Remain in Mexico through the Asylum Seeker Protection Act are a critical effort to halt a cruel program that puts asylum seekers in danger, burdens border communities, and subverts our rule of law.”

On December 20, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy in an attempt to deter asylum seekers by forcing them to return to Mexico and remain there while their cases are considered. On May 7, 2019, the 9th Circuit ruled that the dangerous ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy could stay in place, continuing to put asylum seekers’ lives in danger, hindering their due process rights, and straining our ally, Mexico.

According to DHS, since the expansion of this policy to El Paso, Texas, more than 1,500 asylum seekers have been made to wait in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, including vulnerable populations like children with disabilities and pregnant women.

The Asylum Seeker Protection Act is co-sponsored 22 members of Congress: Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Susan Davis (CA-53), Madeline Dean (PA-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Norma Torres (CA-35), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Filemon Vela (TX-34), and Nydia Velazquez (NY-07).

This legislation is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Hope Border Institute, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Latin America Working Group, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

To read the full bill text, click here.