McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Trump administration on Wednesday announced that Brazilians seeking asylum now must wait in Mexico during their immigration process, which is expected to add to the thousands of migrants living in refugee encampments in northern Mexican border towns like Juarez and Matamoros.
A statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security said that starting today, Brazilians are being added to the list of asylum-seekers who are part of the Migrant Protection Protocols program that requires them to remain in Mexico during their asylum process.
“The number of Brazilian nationals arriving at the Southwest border has tripled in just the last year. The United States continues to work with its partners in the region, as well as other countries, to stem the flow of irregular migration to the Unites States. MPP is one of many tools the Department has implemented to ensure those with meritorious asylum claims are timely adjudicated, while fraudulent claims are property identified,” the statement said.
“MPP will help restore a safe and orderly immigration process, decrease the number of those taking advantage of the immigration system, and the ability of smugglers and traffickers to prey on vulnerable populations, and reduce threats to life, national security, and public safety, while ensuring that vulnerable populations receive the protections they need,” DHS says of the program in a policy statement on its website.
However, the asylum process often takes months and immigration advocates say adding another country to the list is further signaling President Trump’s desire to keep foreigners from Latin countries out of the United States.
“It’s sort of a slippery slope indicative of what he’ll do to all immigrants, starting with the Spanish-speaking countries. It’s obvious they want to target Central Americans more than anything and it’s just a slippery slope until the entire world gets shut out,” immigration lawyer Jodi Goodwin, of Harlingen, told Border Report.
“It is a racist policy and we’re adding people to it every day,” said Joshua Rubin, of Bronx, New York, who since Jan. 12 has been leading a group of MPP protesters at the base of the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas. “It’s people coming from the South … people who are leaving devastated areas and going north, and what’s our policy? Well, the U.S. is a gated community and we’re not going to let these people in.”
In 2019, apprehension rates of Brazilian migrants by U.S. Border Patrol agents skyrocketed. A majority of the arrests occurred in the El Paso Sector where 16,936 Brazilians were arrested in 2019, up from just 462 in 2018. The Rio Grande Valley Sector in South Texas had the next highest incident of apprehension of Brazilians with 381 arrested, according to Border Patrol statistics through September 2019.
With frigid temperatures and violence and murders mounting in Juarez, many migrants have abandoned outdoor tent encampments where they had been living last year when MPP was first implemented there.
But in Matamoros, where the number of asylum-seekers continues to swell daily, hundreds of migrants were relocated from the base of the bridge where they had lived since the summer, to a city park on the banks of the Rio Grande.