At times, the judge seemed ill-informed about how MPP works. At one point, she turned to the government prosecutors in the room and asked whether the Mexican government was providing the migrants housing. One of the attorneys said he did not know. (The answer, generally, is no).
The quote is from Gus Bova’s coverage of the new “tent courts” the Homeland Security Department (DHS) has set up next to the border-crossing bridge in Laredo, Texas. (The exchange with Immigration Judge Yvonne Gonzalez also appears in AP’s report.)
There, by video, immigration judges based elsewhere are hearing the asylum cases of asylum-seeking migrants. U.S. authorities have taken these migrants back into the United States for their “video hearings,” which they’ve awaited for months in dangerous northern Mexican border towns under the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
This policy, which DHS calls “Migrant Protection Protocols” in nakedly Orwellian fashion, has sent over 42,000 non-Mexican asylum seekers into Mexico to await their U.S. hearings since it started last December. Court challenges to the policy are ongoing, but judges have let it proceed for now.
To the judge’s question: No, the Mexican government isn’t providing housing. How could it, with at least 4,000 people per week being sent back over the border right now? The only exception is one government-run shelter in Ciudad Juárez that lets a couple of hundred families stay for three or four weeks, even though “Remain in Mexico” victims must wait for months. Another federal shelter may soon open in Tijuana.
Anyone even passingly familiar with Remain in Mexico would know that. Remain in Mexico has received an ocean of media coverage—at least print media coverage, much of it horrifying—since its rollout last December.
Given the high profile and very controversial nature of Remain in Mexico, the judge’s question is shocking. So was her later suggestion that homeless migrants ask cash-strapped pro-bono lawyers for help paying for their housing in Mexico.
Doesn’t Judge Gonzalez—who had 52 Remain in Mexico cases on her docket yesterday—know that every day, DHS is taking hundreds of people, many of them with children, many of them with strong asylum claims, and sending them homeless and income-less into Mexican border towns with high crime rates? Yes, that’s what’s happening, and at least the judges assigned to these Remain in Mexico cases should be aware of that.