Asylum at the border is ‘effectively over’, El Paso bishop says
After visiting a group of pregnant migrant women on the Mexico side of the border, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, issued strong words about the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program and other restrictive immigration measures, saying that turning away those seeking asylum in the US amounts to sending them to their death.
“During World War II, the United States thought it had learned after we felt the guilt of having returned a boat filled with Jewish refugees back to the extermination camps of Nazi Germany,” he said referencing the ocean liner MS St Louis, a ship with more than 900 Jewish people forced to return to persecution in Europe in 1939.
“But today, we send those who have escaped back into the hands of narco-trafficking gangs, ignoring the very laws we had written,” the bishop said.
Today, he said, the US has essentially put an end to asylum under the Migrant Protection Protocols, or ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which forces asylum-seekers to stay on the Mexico side of the border until their cases are adjudicated in immigration court. Add to that, Bishop Seitz said, the fact the Trump administration has used Title 42 of the US Code governing the ‘Public Health and Welfare’ to instruct Border Patrol agents to expel anyone caught trying to enter the US instead of processing them under existing immigration law.
Bishop Seitz’s comments came in a statement released by the Hope Border Institute in El Paso.
“Respect for the truth demands that I speak up to say that this fundamental right to asylum here at the border really is effectively over,” he said.
He accused the government of using the coronavirus as a cover “to turn the screw even more tightly on migrants at the border” and “to justify the near total suspension of due process”.
Picture: Archive photo, dated 23rd September 2019, shows Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, celebrating Mass at St Pius X Church in El Paso. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn).