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‘People are going to die’ because of Remain in Mexico policy, says local attorney

Posted at 9:14 AM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 14:44:43-05

A Trump-era program banning migrants seeking asylum from waiting in the United States for their legal proceedings was reinstated Monday.

‘Remain in Mexico,’ as the policy is commonly known, was ordered to be restored earlier this year by a federal judge after the Biden administration tried to end it.

U.S. officials made an agreement with Mexico last week to resume the program on several conditions made by Mexican officials, including COVID-19 vaccinations for migrants, more protection in border cities considered dangerous, better access to attorneys, and for cases to try to be resolved in less than six months.

According to the Associated Press, about 70,000 asylum-seekers have been subject to the policy, which also now does not include people considered vulnerable. Children, older adults, and physically or mentally ill people, for example, fall under that category.

Migrants are expected to be returned starting Monday to one undisclosed border city, then eventually it will expand to seven cities, including Nogales, Arizona.

Attorney and partner Ray Ybarra Maldonado with Ybarra Maldonado & Alagha Law Group in Phoenix told ABC15 he believes the Mexican detention camps these migrants will now have to wait in are unsafe.

“Instead of being let into the U.S., they’re going to be put into camps – essentially refugee camps in Mexico – subject to abuse, subject to the possibility of being kidnapped or killed and that’s something that as a human being, not even as an attorney, strikes fear in me,” Ybarra Maldonado said. “The possibility of because of this policy we’re implementing as a government, people are going to die – that’s very real going to start on Monday.”

Ybarra Maldonado also said he’s concerned about the ability of these migrants to get proper legal help without physically being in the United States.

“Within two hours we can be sitting down and talking with them and developing their case,” he said. “Now, they’re going to be in a shelter somewhere in Mexico where it’s going to be nearly impossible for me to get them prepared adequately for their hearings. So, it’s a complete mockery of due process.”

The state department said it has been working on locations for video and phone access to attorneys in the United States for the migrants waiting in Mexico.

Mexico is also seeking money from the United States for shelters and other organizations to try to increase support for migrants who will now have to wait there.