EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Several Mexican families hoping to file asylum claims under the newly restarted Migrant Protection Protocols program were turned back at the U.S. border today.
Videos taken from the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte port of entry on Monday morning show groups of adults and children walking up to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, stating their intent and then walking walk back to Mexico.
Some of the migrants said they were told by the officers that no asylum claims were being taken and that the border was closed. The migrants said they were Mexican citizens fleeing violence in Michoacan, Guerrero and Zacatecas.
The MPP program, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” applies to citizens from Western Hemisphere countries except for Mexico. U.S. policy is not to send back to their own countries people who demonstrate a credible fear of going back to it, which is why Mexico is not part of MPP. But as the videos show, Mexicans wanting to file for asylum are not able to file a claim and are having to walk right back to Mexico.
Ana, one of the migrants who came down the bridge on Monday, said she came to Juarez eight days ago after hearing about the reinstatement of MPP. “That’s why I decided to leave the place where I was hiding,” said the woman who left Guerrero with her young son due to fear of drug violence.
She said her husband was recruited by drug traffickers after jobs dried up in Guerrero due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said her husband told her the only way the gang would let him go was if he died, so she decided to taker her son and leave.
The woman said she went to Acapulco and opened a sandwich shop, but that gang members began to demand “protection” money, so she fled that city, too.
Ana said she intends to remain in Juarez and “I plan to fight until the last day” for a chance to be allowed into the U.S. The UN refugee agency told her they would find her a place to stay for the night.
At least one Central American man was also turned back.
A Nicaraguan male who didn’t want to give his name said he was told at the middle of the bridge that “they’re not accepting anyone right now.” The man said he would stay in Juarez until he can register for MPP.
He said he hitchhiked to the border from Southern Mexico two days ago but didn’t think applying for asylum in the U.S. would be as difficult. “I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone,” he said.