Secretary Nielsen Announces Illegal Plan to Undermine Asylum Protections

December 20, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2018



Secretary Nielsen Announces Illegal Plan to Undermine Asylum Protections 

New policy will wrongfully require asylum seekers to remain in danger


WASHINGTON, DC- Today, Secretary Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security announced the administration’s intent to circumvent legal protections under U.S. and international law by requiring asylum seekers to stay in Mexico during the adjudication of their claims. Equally troubling and unlawful is the administration’s additional instruction that asylum seekers could remain in the U.S. only if they can demonstrate reasonable fear of persecution in Mexico, placing an immoral and undue burden on already vulnerable populations and abdicating of our nation’s values to welcome those who seek safety.

Church World Service President and CEO Rev. John McCullough issued the following response:

“Just days after a 7-year-old Jakelin Caal died in the custody of CBP, Secretary Nielsen announced an immoral and illegal plan that will put more vulnerable children and families who are desperately seeking safety in grave danger as they are forced to remain in Mexico for months or years while their claims are processed. The administration’s offer to permit some asylum seekers to remain in the U.S. if they can prove reasonable fear of persecution in Mexico does not remedy this violation of our moral and legal obligations.

“When families come to our door to ask us for protection, we should respond with humanity and compassion. Instead, the administration is trying to throw up prohibitive barriers to prevent asylum seekers from accessing their legal rights.

“CWS joins faith communities and people of conscience across the nation who will continue to uphold our nation’s legacy of welcoming the vulnerable. In 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision of the United Nations was realized. It is an affront to this vision that the United States is now reneging in its responsibility to provide protection for asylum seekers.”

Remaining in Mexico for an extended period of time is an unsafe option for the majority of people seeking protection. The dangers facing refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in Mexico are well-documented, and Mexico’s systems for protection are chronically under-resourced and poorly functioning. Although some will be able to apply for protection and remain in Mexico, that is not a safe or viable option for all families. Research illustrates the impunity that officials operate with in Mexico, as migrants are frequently victims of abuse by criminal organizations and corrupt Mexican migration and security agents, and these crimes are almost never properly investigated or punished.

CWS’s responses to the administration’s previous attempts to undermine asylum protections can be found here.

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our refugee and immigrant work