Trump is launching Remain in Mexico to make a desperate case that Mexico his paying for his wall.
|Jan 25||Public post|
If expanded to include any more than a few dozen migrants, Remain in Mexico could turn into a humanitarian disaster, saying nothing of its decimation of the legal rights of asylum seekers.
The plan requires some asylum-seekers — we don’t know who, of course, or how they’re chosen — to stay in Mexico while their cases are working their way through the biggest backlog the U.S. immigration court system has ever seen.
When I was in Juarez earlier this month I discussed the plan with Juarez Mayor Armando Cabada — or at least we tried to. As with the announcement of the plan today — when Mexican government officials said they’d had no communication with the U.S. government regarding how Remain in Mexico will actually work — Cabado told me he had heard absolutely nothing about the plan before it was unexpectedly announced on Dec. 20.
This is par for the course for the Trump administration, which gave little to no warning to authorities on the border before launching Zero Tolerance. Except this time it will be Mexican border communities that the administration will place an unexpected burden on, not federal courts or Border Patrol or any of the other entities who had little prior notice of zero tolerance.
Needless to say, Cabada wasn’t pleased with the plan.
“It is totally unfair to Mexico,” he told me in his office a few weeks ago. “We will have to provide services for them in the meantime. They are the responsibility of the United States government, not us.”
If large numbers of migrants are sent back to Mexico to wait for court dates, it will result in a “crisis” in Juarez, Cabado said. That’s because the lone shelter in the city is already at capacity, and any migrants beyond that number — about 300 — will have to be cared for with city resources, which are already stretched.
Here are few things that will happen if Remain in Mexico is launched on any major scale:
Hundreds or thousands of Central American migrants — who will likely be targeted by the plan because they are the most recent arrivees — will end up on the streets of Juarez and other border towns
Shelters in those locations will scramble to house the migrants, many of whom have little in the way of education, almost no money and some of whom speak Spanish only as a second language
When those shelters fill up it will become the responsibility of local governments to fill the void, eating up municipal resources in places like Juarez that would otherwise go toward city services
Migrants will end in camps — like the one in Tijuana — or at makeshift shelters, like a network of school gymnasiums in Juarez that Cabada said were used earlier this month when the U.S. government mass deported migrants into the city
The ACLU and other groups will immediately sue the Trump administration over the policy, likely resulting in a judge putting a temporary stop to it
The migrants who were sent back to Mexico before that stay is put in place will either get screwed over on their asylum cases or, if they’re lucky, become part of a class-action lawsuit similar to the migrants who are now part of one as a result of the Trump administration attempting to make illegal entry a requirement for an asylum claim
All of this doesn’t even address the question of the twisted logistics of this “plan.” Migrants who would normally be staying with family in the United States will now be at shelters in Mexico and have to make their way back here to meet with their attorneys and make court dates. The reason migrants are often released is because they have ties to the community to which their travelling, where they work jobs that provide them some of the resources necessary for a lengthy court battle — years, in some cases.
Places like Juarez provide none of that, especially for the growing number of Central American migrants seeking asylum. Will the U.S. government issue these migrants travel visas so they can travel back and forth across the border to meet with attorneys and attend their court hearings? Will the U.S. government establish asylum courts in Mexico to handle migrants’ cases there?
No one knows. Because organization is not the point. Chaos is the point.
The Trump administration has strived since day one to reduce immigration as much as possible — resulting in too many court fights to name right now — and to dissuade, deter and dishearten as many asylum-seekers as possible from coming here. The administration will say Remain in Mexico is necessary to prevent asylum-seekers from being released into the interior of the country and then skipping their court dates. This, of course, is misleading reasoning, because the government’s own statistics show that 90 percent of asylum-seekers show up in court.
The only question that remains is, Why now?
Trump knows he’ll have to re-open the government without funding for his wall, which is why he’ll likely announce a national emergency in order to fund the project. Then he’ll take to the airwaves to announce that, due to Remain in Mexico, Mexico is actually paying for the wall, not U.S. taxpayers.
Except there won’t be a wall, just a network of makeshift shelters in Juarez and elsewhere, and a possible humanitarian crisis.