The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s policy to force vulnerable asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico awaiting hearings on their asylum claims, the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP).
The plaintiffs in Mexico have been in constant fear for their lives and experienced kidnappings, threats, and assault while in Mexico. One plaintiff, a transgender woman, was sent back to Mexico despite the well-documented deadly conditions for transgender women there. The U.S. Department of State acknowledges that more than half of LGBTI persons in Mexico reportedly have suffered hate speech and physical aggression. She has faced horrific abuse in Mexico and lives in daily fear for her life. The plaintiffs also have suffered destitution while they wait for hearings on their asylum claims. Several of them slept on the streets for days after being returned to Mexico before living in a refugee camp. They have had difficulties obtaining medical and mental health care for themselves and their children. Making matters worse, there has been almost no progress in processing their applications for asylum – two plaintiffs have waited in Mexico for almost a year without a single hearing on their application.
The lawsuit argues that the government lacked authority to return these individuals to Mexico because they already were found present in the United States. It also alleges that the dangers asylum-seekers face in Mexico is a feature of a program motivated by racial animus, not a flaw. It is consistent with President Trump’s many statements that asylum-seekers from Central Americas are “animals,” who should be harmed if they seek protection in the U.S.
The lawsuit seeks the Court's declaration that the protocols were unlawfully applied to our plaintiffs and order them returned to the U.S. to pursue their asylum claims in relative safety.