WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2019 — Laura Pena, pro bono counsel with the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, testified this morning to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee about the ABA’s concerns with the Remain in Mexico immigration policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.
Under this policy, people seeking asylum at the United States’ border with Mexico must stay in Mexico while awaiting a hearing before a U.S. immigration judge. The waits often take months, in dangerous conditions, and asylum seekers rarely have the opportunity to consult with legal counsel. As of September 2019, only 2% of asylum seekers subjected to MPP had secured legal representation.
“The ABA is deeply concerned that the Migrant Protection Protocols … discriminate against Spanish-speaking asylum seekers and deprive them of full and fair access to the American justice system, including meaningful access to counsel,” Pena told the House Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation and Operations in written testimony. “We also are concerned about the personal safety of the more than 55,000 individuals who have been subjected to this policy. This concern is not theoretical. We have seen the practical effects of this policy first-hand.”
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