According to a recent report published by the organisation, the US migration programme has needlessly exposed tens of thousands of asylum seekers in Mexico to crimes such as rape, kidnapping, and extortion.
Following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November, Latin American politicians and activists from Mexico to Argentina were quick to show their relief, praising the democracy of the American people and congratulating Biden on social media.
‘Some are talking the end of fascism, others of the end of one of the darkest periods in American history,’ wrote Foreign Policy. ‘Others say they hope that Biden’s victory will bring the desired understanding and respect for a region that has suffered from the neglect or malignity of the Trump administration over the past four years.’
Having spent decades working in the region, Biden and his team of foreign policy advisers are well-aware of the gravity of the region’s humanitarian crises and, as a result, will resurrect Obama-era initiatives and repudiate Trump’s hardball approach in the process.
But for a President now facing a dire public health and economic emergency in his own country, Latin America is far from first on the agenda and some have even begun warning against the former VP’s policy, deeming it in favour of compromising with thugs over human rights.
Despite this, Biden is still committed to making Mexico the main focus of his Democratic agenda due to its long land border which is a major source of illegal immigration and smuggled drugs.
It’s a pragmatic approach promising to finally end the construction of the Mexican border-wall, additionally offering a $4 billion aid plan alongside this to boost prosperity in Central America, the origin of much of the migration.
This is the direct opposite of Trump’s efforts in the region which were primarily to control the flow of immigrants and drugs with harsh enforcement means and threats of imposing economic pain on neighbours.
‘The biggest challenge early on may be the immigration issue,’ former top official at the state department, Thomas Shannon, tells the FT. ‘There’s real pressure to reverse the Trump steps on migration, refugees and asylum but if they are not careful how this is done, it could lead a lot of people in Central America to decide that now is the time to head north.’
For this reason, a leading human rights organisation is calling upon Biden’s incoming administration to rapidly and decisively dismantle ‘Remain in Mexico,’ a ‘devastating’ migration programme which the group says has needlessly exposed tens of thousands of asylum seekers – many of them unaccompanied children – to avoidable physical and emotional harm.
Originally laid out in an attempt to deter them from entering the US through the south, the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) requires asylum seekers to await their court hearings in Mexican border towns such as Ciudad Juárez, Mexicali and Matamoros, all of which have some of the highest murder and femicide rates on the planet.